Vodafone pitches curated app store offering

UK based carrier Vodafone is addressing the problem of swollen app stores, which it sees as a daunting experience for consumers due to the overwhelming numbers of apps. This week the company followed up on its own portal within the Android Market, with an own branded and curated app store that exists in its own right.

Vodafone launched a branded experience within the Android Market for European users in July. The move allowed the carrier to editorialise its own space in the store, as well as to introduce carrier billing. According to Lee Epting, Vodafone’s director of content services, who spoke to this week, “payment is a key prohibitor for app consumption, and carrier billing addresses this.”

By way of supporting evidence, Vodafone said that in the five months since it launched in Android Market, the uptick of downloads of its selected apps has risen to between 60 per cent and 400 per cent.

The company has gone one step further for what it calls “new smartphone users” – those customers that are cautiously migrating from a feature phone experience – with App Select, a stand alone app store that launches this week.

In this domain, which will be pushed out to existing users and pre-installed on new devices, Vodafone will focus on the top 100 apps from any store, and will test them against its network before promoting them. There will not be an archive as such and the content will be refreshed every few months to spare users from an overwhelming number of apps. Pricing will be along the lines of the big app stores although Vodafone will be at liberty to run special promotions.

The main focus, according to Epting, is the new smartphone user, which she says is very cost conscious and will be supported at Vodafone’s end by a raft of self care widgets the carrier is launching, which show dynamic and useful data and tariffing information.

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