Deutsche Telekom leads carrier 'iTunes' plan
German incumbent plans to create content and apps store spanning different operators, devices and OSs
Published: 22 March, 2010
The world's largest mobile operators have already shown themselves willing to set aside competitive differences in the common interest of fending off Google and the bitpipe. They formed the Wholesale Application Community last month to create a common developer platform, bringing together all their network APIs. Now some of them may go a step further and collaborate on application and content stores, with Deutsche Telekom the prime mover this time.
The German incumbent is planning a digital storefront to rival Apple iTunes and App Store, reports the Financial Times' local edition. This will not just be a revamped shopfront for its own customers, but will be the basis of a wholesale store framework that could be branded by a number of rival carriers too. This would reduce time to market and could lead to the partners using their combined weight to negotiate deals with content majors, as well as to create an attractive developer base.
Deutsche Telekom and its unnamed partners will build the new store around its existing platforms, Mediaload, Videoload and Gamesload. The main focus will be on smartphones and other portable media devices, and so the store will include mobile apps as well as music, video and games. However, it is likely that the eventual aim will be to span all the screens - mobile devices, PCs, TVs and emerging options like in-car systems. Creating a common media store and user experience, with unified security and personalization settings plus cloud storage, is a goal of many advanced operators, with Orange probably the frontrunner.
Such an approach aims to offer a superior content experience to the open web and over-the-top providers; to tie consumers into a single carrier for TV, broadband and mobile services; and to be neutral of different operating systems and software platforms, putting the carrier firmly at the helm. It could also be bad news for the vendors that are seeking to help operators fight against the dumb pipe, by offering white label frameworks and hosted services - Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Qualcomm and others have recently announced such offerings, but these could be sidelined by a concerted effort by major cellcos to run the show themselves.