Already 2009 could go down as the year of the mobile app, or at least the year that mobile apps became a part of every day life. But how apps are being distributed is still very much evolving, and Ilja Laurs, founder and CEO of GetJar, believes that mobile applications will move off-deck, that is without making the user go through mobile operators to get their wares. Laurs tells AllBusiness.com why he thinks the mobile app business will continue to change and evolve.
AllBusiness.com: The saying goes “there is an app for that,” and now with so many apps to chose from users may feel compelled to go to either the handset’s maker for apps or the carrier. How do you compete with that given that the carriers and makers essentially have a captive audience?
Ilja Laurs: There are lots of reasons why GetJar can better serve the consumer and the developer than any of the OEM/platform/carrier app stores. Here are just five:
- GetJar’s been around since 2005 and is far ahead of all the new carriers/OEM app stores that are just being launched. Last year, GetJar launched app stores with 22 carriers; all of these carriers account for less than five percent of GetJar’s downloads. With over 60 million downloads a month and projected over 1 billion downloads in 2010, GetJar is virtually impossible to reach in volumes.
- GetJar is cross platform and we support all phones/platforms/carriers. WalMart’s one-destination-for-all model, for example, is always more appealing to the consumer than a variety of one-maker shops.
- GetJar is as open as it could be. Apps is our only business and our success depends on providing the consumer with the best/widest catalogue of apps and making the app developer successful. OEM/carrier app stores have different goals – sell more devices, data plans, etc. Moreover, because of the conflict of interest in all the most exciting areas (music, navigation, voice, messaging, etc.), they will reject the best apps. We don’t have any conflict with any business model of our developers, we will have all these “rejected by other app stores” apps, our catalogue will always be more appealing to the consumer!
- GetJar is much more than just an app store. We provide developers with the all tools and services they need to be successful with apps, such as beta testing (community of 300,000 beta testers), statistics, analytics, billing, advertising, tracking, CRM and so on. For developer, GetJar is not only about distribution, it’s about building the whole app business. No other app store can match this.
- GetJar is committed to serving what’s best for the consumer. We don’t optimize our app store for profit maximization (though no doubt we support paid apps), we rank apps by their popularity, not by their profitability like many other app stores do. If you check our first page, you’ll find Google Maps, Opera Mini, Facebook and other cool free apps, not some $20 games or $70 business apps that are pushed to the consumer on front pages of other app stores to maximize sales.
AllBusiness.com: One of the problems I’ve found with many app stores is that navigation is tricky, and finding what you want can be tough. How do you address this at GetJar?
Ilja Laurs: GetJar has launched or is launching many cool things that make discovery much easier. Most important features include: very strong recommendation engine; a very strong search engine, we don’t just return apps that have the keywords in their title or description, but rather apps that are used most when searched and found using a specific keyword; state of the art navigation, using rotating apps widgets, easy category browsing, etc; and easy app sharing with friends using all communication medias, from social networks to email and SMS.
AllBusiness.com: One of the real upsides of the big app stores is that users feel they can trust the apps, are you be able to offer the same screening process from the apps you are offering?
Ilja Laurs: We believe in the open model where the consumers decide what can or what can’t be trusted. The Internet works the very same way (does anybody “approve” launching a Web site?), we believe mobile apps have to be the same way and any attempts to police the space will eventually fail. Our experience to date suggests that users (at least GetJar’s) perfectly cope with this task – malicious applications are immediately spotted and filtered out by the community.
AllBusiness.com: The big downside to the maker app stores is that you can’t easily compare what’s out there for other handsets. Do you think that app stores such as GetJar could be helpful for giving consumers options when the time comes to decide where to go with their next handset? That is they can see what you offer for one handset and see whether another handset has similar offerings?
Ilja Laurs: Appsolutely (pun intended)! Our research suggests that 30 percent of consumers already today name apps (built and available to download) as the most important reason when choosing a new phone. Not only can we give a “preview” of how many and which apps will be available for any given phone, but we can actually port already purchased apps to the new device, e.g. if you bought game X for your Samsung and are now switching to Sony Ericsson, we can restore your license (since you already paid for it, why should you lose it just because you change the phone?) on your new phone. Cross phone and cross carrier, no maker or carrier app store can offer this!