When doors close, independent app stores remain open

This post is part of a series leading up to an upcoming Connected Planet feature story on open mobile. Road to Open: Read part 1 HERE, part 2 HERE, part 3 HERE and part 4 HERE.handango.png

Independent application store Handango has always operated in what CEO Alex Bloom considers an open world. By working independently, as well as selling to operating systems, it has the ability to deliver via the Web, a sync cradle or over-the-air, avoiding the carrier gate completely. Any developer of any size has always been able to write an app and get it distributed through Handango, Bloom said.

This environment is in stark contrast to Verizon Java or Brew devices on which the only way to get content to consumers is to go through the carrier’s pre-determined store. Even as the carriers have opened up these stores with new initiatives, they are still in the loop through billing, so it might never be completely open, according to Bloom.

“All these devices out now, Android, for example, is an open device, because although Google Marketplace is a distribution place, a developer isn’t exclusively required to go through that channel to sell their wares for that device,” Bloom said. “They can go through Handango, their own store, a host of different stores. Because devices are open and the distribution ecosystem is open, developers have multiple path to market to reach consumers of those devices.”

Through Verizon’s open initiative, the carrier is allowing new devices on its network, Bloom added, but in terms of content, it is less significant of a change. Once any device or netbook is approved and in the market, the device will be open to multiple points of entry for apps and content. Developers have to adhere to each individual OEM, OS or carrier app store rules to get certified, but if that fails – they do have other options, Bloom said. For Handango, nothing has changed.

“Even though there is a big PR groundswell around this idea of being open, my view is it’s not so much that anything has changed, other than people are trying to pretend they are more open,” Bloom said. “But the fact of the matter is, these devices – smartphones in particular – Windows Mobile, Symbian, Palm and Android – are all open. You don’t have to go through a single carrier or gate in order to get your goods to consumers of those devices.”

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