Appia’s global development team seems to be earning its stripes. The Durham, N.C.-based today announced that Vodafone India is using Appia to power its new Vodafone Mobile Application Store.
That’s in addition to Appia’s deals with the likes of Vodacom in South America and Telcel in Mexico, both announced this year.
When Appia launched its global expansion plans in February, CEO Jud Bowman said emerging international markets represent a massive growth opportunity for the company. That belief hasn’t changed.
Bowman points out that the Indian mobile market is home to 865 million mobile subscribers; it’s No. 2 behind China. Now that Android is pushing the cost of smartphones down under $200, it’s looking even more promising. “It’s exciting to have this as an entry point to the carrier market in India,” he says.
Bowman declined to say who Appia was up against in terms of competition for the Vodafone India contract but said it was a competitive process and the result of which Appia hopes will help seal its leadership position in providing white-label mobile storefronts for carriers, handset OEMs and mobile portals.
As for skeptics who say it’s too late for carriers to make much difference by way of competing with well-known stores like Apple’s App Store, Google’s Android Market and others, Bowman says he’s of the mind that this is just the second or third inning of the game. There are 5.6 billion people with cell phones around the world and they upgrade handsets every 18 months on average. He believes that over the next 18 months, a massive percentage of those 5.6 billion will be converting to smartphones.
Appia, formerly known as PocketGear, was founded in June 2008 when it was spun out from Motricity. It has since grown by leaps and bounds and in September announced Craig Forman as its executive chairman. Forman had previously been at WHERE, which was acquired by eBay, and before that had held positions at Yahoo, EarthLink and Infoseek.
Appia still considers itself a startup and growing as fast as it has, having someone like Forman on board helps to navigate the growth spurts, Bowman said.