Move over, Apple: Symbian preps app warehouse
Horizon distribution centre set for October
The Symbian Foundation has been waxing lyrical about its application warehouse, now titled Horizon, which will be available to all and sundry come October.
Horizon won't be an application store, but is intended to be a warehouse from which application stores can select their stock. The Symbian Foundation will sign applications, support developers, and take care of distributing revenue, but punters won't be able to buy applications direct from Symbian.
The strategy has been announced before: all that's new is the name and launch schedule, with Horizon already opened to selected partners and available to everyone else come October. But the approach is interesting and intended to provide the advantages of Apple's iTunes store, with an openness and competitiveness that Apple's offering lacks.
With its monopolistic application store the iPhone offers unparalleled simplicity and consistency in application development and distribution, and has driven the activity into the mainstream. Creating applications for Symbian could be equally simple, but the flexibility of the platform leads to inevitable complexity as the application publisher must negotiate deals with, and have their application approved by, different retailers - all of whom have their own rules.
Symbian Horizon is intended to simplify that part of the process: an application author gets approval to list their application in Horizon, and retailers such as Ovi and operator stores pick applications from the list to put on their shelves. Publishers who don't like Horizon are free to do deals direct, or sell direct to the public if they so desire.
There was a time when on-line software retailers sold packages for desktop computers too, and a few still exist today, though the majority of software sold over the internet now is purchased direct from the publisher's web site. One can't help wondering if that's the model that will, eventually, come to mobile too, with Symbian Horizon and Microsoft Marketplace being stop-gap solutions while the mobile-software brands become established.
Or perhaps this is a new business model where several layers of intermediation are desirable, though one has to wonder to whom. ®
I can actually see the AppStore approach coming to the desktop, particularly from a player like Apple (who could easily integrate an AppStore with their signed apps framework and Fairplay DRM to offer developers a significant advantage in increased exposure and lower piracy – two advantages that make up for the closed nature of the iPhone, even if they are anathema to most of us).
And a lot of the on-line payment processors used by small software firms take a cut similar to Apple’s AppStore without offering hosting / delivery / etc.
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@AC: If Apple sold apps for another platform too ...
iTunes would still be a monopoly. I cannot sell my iPhone software anywhere else -> iTunes has a monopoly on distributing software for the iPhone.
I hope you feel like the idiot you come across as.