Airtel claims that its application store is the biggest operator owned app store in the world.
App Central was launched in February last year and since then 40 million apps have been downloaded from it. Of these, 32 per cent, or about 12 million, apps were paid.
Apple’s is the largest app store and 12 million app sales is substantially less than what it has achieved . Apple’s iBooks, an ebook store, has served more than 100 million book downloads, while the iPhone maker has already paid $2 billion to its application developers. Apple has over 200 million user accounts on iTunes, iBooks and App Store.
Android Market is also bigger than Airtel’s store, with more than one billion app downloads in August 2010 itself, and it is reported to be hitting the 3.5 billion mark.
But given the fact that Airtel’s App Central is limited to India, while Apple and Android are available across the world, Airtel’s feat is commendable and speaks volumes of the potential of value added services in India.
App Central currently has more than 103,000 apps for download and is accessible by about 550 devices. These apps are categorised under 25 customer categories. There are productivity, business applications, utilities, casual games, themes, books, social networking and IM (instant messenger applications) etc.
The good thing about App Central is that you do not need a credit card to pay for applications. The amount is charged against the user’s pre paid balance or post paid bill.
The operator said that revenue from App Central has increased by 120 per cent, and with the 3G launch Airtel foresees faster growth.
Atul Bindal, president, mobile services, Bharti Airtel said, “We see a huge opportunity in the applications space. We will make our store richer with more mobile money, education and services apps, apart from adding in other popular segments.”
App Central has been visited by more than 100 million people and of these 42 per cent end up downloading an app.
Bindal added, “We are already seeing a huge upswing in data usage in only three cities that we have launched 3G in, with just five lakh 3G customers already contributing to a substantial chunk of overall data usage.”
Top five circles from where downloads were requested are, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Mumbai, Maharashtra and Goa and Rajasthan. Airtel has 3G spectrum in all these circles, apart from Kerala and Maharashtra.
In the past one month three other operators — Idea Cellular, Reliance Communications and BSNL have announced that they will have applications stores.
Aircel already has a very popular application store, called Pocket Internet, and so does Tata Docomo.