When it entered the scene, many speculated the long-term viability of its plan and how consumers would react to an operator-branded, so-called “independent” app store. Over the past year, we’ve heard little from the WAC and what it’s long-term goals are. We do know the community has grown to 57 members, it joined forces with the Joint Innovation Lab and recently announced a business model based around carrier-billing of mobile apps.
Still, there’s a lot of questions left unanswered, which is why the interview with Mr. Suh is pretty interesting. The burning question is whether the big-name app stores — namely Apple’s App Store, the Android Market and Blackberry’s App World — would ever consider getting involved, and whether consumers would opt instead for apps from the WAC. To that, Mr. Suh replied “We’ve definitely had conversations with device manufacturers who are important to our industry. And as WAC is set up as a non-discriminating, not-for-profit organization, anyone is welcome to join. To some of the names that you’ve mentioned, we have had conversations with them, and some of them have expressed very good interest in learning more about WAC.”
Most interesting however was this question: “If I’m an Android user, or an iPhone user, or a BlackBerry user or a Symbian user, and I have an established relationship with the application storefront associated with that platform, as an end-user, why should I be compelled to get an application from the carrier store that’s affiliated with WAC?” To which Suh replied:
“I think from a consumer perspective, what I hear is consumers want applications. But they want to the ability to have the applications with them. So if they purchase that application, they expect to have that. And as we know, people switch devices. People have different preferences, depending upon what their lifestyle is or where they are in that day. So to have the portability of the application is important to the industry. We think it’s important to the consumer. So to me, it’s less about the app store and the relationship with that app store, and more about the consumer having the application that they want on the device that they want when they want it. I think, ultimately, that’s what we need to strive for.”
The entire interview is located here, and it’s definitely worth the read.