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Handango shakes on Carphone Warehouse deal

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Smartphone software distributor Handango has signed a deal with Carphone Warehouse to have its service promoted with sales of the pink edition BlackBerry Pearl.

However, the internet company has its sights set on a more comprehensive relationship, and a corporeal future.

The initial deal involves Handango creating a special website and a bundle of applications that will be referenced in the Pearl buyers' welcome pack. The site is also to be mentioned in the first email to users from Carphone Warehouse welcoming them to the service.

But in the longer term, Handango would like to get Carphone Warehouse staff actively promoting the site and showing buyers how to use it, with an obvious evolution towards selling software in-store.

Those few minutes after a punter has bought a mobile phone but before they leave the shop have proved to be enormously valuable if utilised effectively. Demonstrating how to send an MMS message or download a video drives uptake far more effectively than promoting the service in more traditional ways.

Usually this is only done in operator-owned shops, where the operator has an incentive to drive network usage - some operators give bonuses to shops whose customers go on to use more premium services. Handango will have to provide a considerable incentive to Carphone Warehouse if it wants to get sales assistants to demonstrate the download service, or recommend its use.

Handango is the senior partner in the duopoly that runs the mobile-application distribution business, with Motricity being the poor relation. Most operator portals are run by one of the pair, who take around 40 per cent of every sale - often more on an operator portal.

Smartphone ownership is growing, and users are becoming more comfortable with downloading new applications. It could be argued that an uneven duopoly is insufficient to ensure a competitive market, and services such as Nokia's Ovi have done nothing so far to challenge that.

But if smartphone ownership grows at the expected rate, there should be plenty of business for everyone once users can be taught how to download and pay for new software on their mobiles. ®

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