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Orange overhauls app store

Web submissions welcome, but only Android. And just for France

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Orange's Partner Connect is promising a 48-hour response for developers submitting applications, though for the moment they'll need to be using Android, and only interested in selling to the French.

The idea is that the web-driven service will eventually include BlackBerry and Java applications, and provide a 70/30 split with developers selling apps across the 32 countries where Orange operates. All very laudable, but for the moment it's Android applications sold in to France.

Orange is charging a €10 sign-up fee, but promises to review applications submitted within two working days, and provide complete transparency on sales and revenue information. That shouldn't be undervalued - developers love being able to log on and see in real time how many copies they've sold and where. Orange won't be passing on any cash, however, until the developer cut hits €100.

Alternative app stores have a hard time competing with Google's Android Marketplace - which comes pre-installed on the majority of Android handsets. SlideMe survives, but competing with Google is tough at the best of times.

Orange can pre-install its app store, which is provided by the chaps at Surf Kitchen and designed to provide a consistent interface across platforms. This is important as Orange will need to emphasis its cross-platform provision to attract developer attention.

The €10-sign-up, quick-certification approach seems to be asking developers to chuck their creations into the Orange store as well as the vertical stores they might be considering, which makes sense. If a customer wants the latest Angry Birds app, then the app store that provides it will be the one that customer goes to next time.

It's worth remembering that Orange still runs its home page, successfully, as a portal: something other companies gave up doing a decade ago. So the company already sees itself as much more than a bit pipe. It might have stopped running jamborees in Florida, or elsewhere, but Orange is hoping that its much-missed Developer Camps aren't the only thing developers loved. ®

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