Vodafone to launch new app store

Vodafone has announced its plans to launch a new app store for its customers. The company is providing internet service developers with a single point of access to Vodafone’s global customer base, to create apps specifically for its end users.

Developers will only need to create internet applications once in order to reach millions of Vodafone customers on any device and will be able to charge for it directly through Vodafone’s billing system, the operator said. This will provide internet content partners, such as the media or game developers, with a cost efficient and effective micro-payments system to reach all customers on mobile devices.

Vodafone will also provide partners and developers with customer controlled access to other network capabilities, such as location awareness, enabling them to create even more innovative mobile internet services and applications.

The move will be accompanied by a framework to provide customers with transparency and control over how their information is accessed and used.

The scale of the initiative will provide partners and developers with a significant opportunity to increase their revenues from the mobile internet, while delivering services to Vodafone’s 289 million customers, the business stated. Vodafone will also benefit from any uplift in sales under a revenue share model.

Vodafone will enable developers to use its direct billing capabilities to permit customers to pay for services wirelessly through their existing Vodafone pre and post paid accounts rather than having to input sensitive credit card data into multiple application stores.

By giving developers access to location awareness capabilities, Vodafone will enable a new generation of highly personalised user-activated and controlled services and applications that are tailored to meet the customer’s immediate requirements.

Vodafone is making the enhancements through the creation of a set of network Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) which will enable developers to build capabilities such as direct billing and location awareness into their services. The APIs, which provide a link between the applications and the Vodafone network capabilities, will work across the entire Vodafone footprint thanks to a new layer of management technology based on Service Oriented Architecture.

Vodafone will start to offer access to selected network enablers through the Joint Innovation Lab (JIL) initiative, which is designed to help developers create useful widgets for a combined audience of up to one billion customers (across the four JIL partner networks). JIL is due to release a website and a Software Developer Kit in the summer. Vodafone is also exploring a range of other ways to expose its network enablers to the broadest possible audience.