SAN DIEGO—Ericsson is getting in on the app game, but don’t expect to see Ericsson-branded app stores popping up any time soon. Instead, the infrastructure company is offering its app store creation as a white-labeled product that can be rebranded by customers.
“We’re trying to position the Ericsson app store as different from the Apple app store model,” says Roger Walland, Ericsson’s head of strategy for its multimedia applications in North America, at this week’s CTIA Wireless I.T. & Entertainment conference.
Walland argues that the typical approach to creating an app store does little to help carriers’ bottom line. “The traditional approach is too vertical. It doesn’t help the carriers,” he says. “The only people who make money are the ones selling the phones.”
Ericsson claims its app store allows carriers to get a small amount of revenue out of every data transaction, helping them close the growing divide between rising data traffic and falling data revenue. Ericsson currently has one “large, international carrier” on board for the service, but Walland said he wasn’t yet at liberty to disclose the company’s name.
Ericsson is also trying to take the app store model and tailor it for use in vertical markets. Consumer-focused applications have the highest profile in the wireless industry, but a large developer community is focused on business and solutions for vertical markets like healthcare.
Ericsson hopes to cash in on the enterprise app space with individual app stores targeted at specific vertical markets. Essentially, such stores would be a shared resource for application developers to use to market their product. Walland offered the possibility of a healthcare-focused app store as a hypothetical example of how Ericsson’s white-label service would fit into that space.
Though Ericsson is optimistic about the future of its new service, Walland admitted there have been some difficulties. “[Creating an app store] isn’t a technical challenge, it’s a business challenge,” Walland says. “It’s making the economics work, attracting that critical mass of application developers.”
So with all the work Ericsson is putting into its white-label service, why not open one of its own? “Every week there’s a new app store opening. It’s getting a little old,” Walland says. “If we opened an Ericsson-labeled app store, no one would care.”