Opera Launches Its Own App Store, Gets Browser Kicked from GetJar

Opera Mini has been a widely-heralded browser on mobile devices since before smartphones were prevalent. It’s always had a lot of features, even back when mobile browsers…well, didn’t. Naturally, it’s gained quite a following. When you’re in the mobile business and you have a large following, what’s the logical next step? Launch an app store. And that’s exactly what Opera did.

Opera teamed up with Appia (you may remember them as PocketGear) to start distributing apps via their own store. Residing at mobilestore.opera.com (which will be a quicklink on any updated Opera Mini browser), Opera’s app store will feature apps for Java, Symbian, Blackberry, and of course our beloved Android devices. Typically, I’m not a big fan of 3rd party app stores, especially since Android comes with the market built right in. However, as I consider this list, I figure there’s a good chance that Symbian users and people without smartphones probably use Opera Mini as their primary, and having apps available to them at the click of a softbutton is pretty handy. A lot of Blackberry users probably find themselves in the same boat (I used Opera Mini on my Blackberry back in the day), and Blackberry’s App World is still pretty young, itself. So maybe this will work.

Of course, this news was met with a counterpoint. GetJar — a stand-alone app distributor themselves, also carrying apps for various platforms — has hosted the Opera Mini browser for a long time. Upon Opera’s announcement to introduce their own app store, however, GetJar has decided that this will no longer be the case. Opera Mini has been kicked from GetJar’s servers, basically because GetJar has to protect its own financial interest.

Both of these moves make good business sense, but they’re also both going to be met with a lot of controversy. Will Opera make enough from its app store to make up for the fact that it may see fewer downloads now that GetJar isn’t hosting it? I say probably, but time will tell. Find both press releases below, and sound off in the comments.

Opera

Opera launches the Opera Mobile Store, available in over 200 Countries

Oslo, Norway – March 8, 2011

Opera Software, the leading provider of mobile browsers around the world, today announced that the Opera Mobile Store is now open and available at mobilestore.opera.com. This storefront is a featured Speed Dial link in the Opera Mini and Opera Mobile browsers, which makes the storefront immediately accessible by more than 100 million people who use an Opera browser on their mobile phones. The Opera Mobile Store has been built and delivered through a strategic partnership with Appia, the leading provider of open application marketplace technology. The Opera Mobile Store offers both free and paid applications for virtually any mobile platform and device. The Opera Mobile Store is available to Opera users and users of other mobile browsers, on all popular mobile phone platforms in more than 200 countries. The Opera Mobile Store uses Appia’s storefront commerce technology and leverages a wide catalog of applications for phones with Java, Symbian, BlackBerry and Android operating systems. The storefront experience is customized to each user’s phone, providing a tailored catalog based on the phone’s operating system, local language and currency.

“The launch of the Opera Mobile Store supports Opera’s core belief in an open, cross-platform mobile Internet experience by providing Opera users with an integrated storefront of mobile applications,” said Mahi de Silva, EVP, Consumer Mobile, Opera Software. “Our partnership with Appia delivers to all Opera Mobile and Opera Mini users easy access to a wide variety of great content, on any device, all over the world.”

To support the Opera Mobile Store, Opera Software has also launched the Opera Publisher Portal, providing developers with an easy way to get their applications onto the Opera Mobile Store and in front of millions of Opera users every month. In its pre-launch state, the Opera Mobile Store attracted more than 15 million users in February, from 200 countries, achieving more than 700,000 downloads per day. These metrics establish the Opera Mobile Store as a top 10 mobile application store around the world.

“The Opera Mobile Store presents a remarkable opportunity for mobile application developers to distribute localized content through a single, far-reaching marketplace,” said Jud Bowman, CEO of Appia. “Appia is thrilled to partner with Opera to deliver an incredible storefront of applications to Opera users and beyond.”

About Appia

Appia is the world’s largest open app marketplace and white label storefront platform, supporting all operating systems and handsets. Today, Appia powers app storefronts for more than 40 partners reaching more than 200 million mobile subscribers in 200 countries and counting. Customers include four of the world’s top five handset manufacturers, three of the top four mobile operators in the US and three of the top ten mobile operators globally including Samsung, Opera, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon Wireless. The Appia Developer Program provides partners with a ready to launch catalog of over 140,000 paid and free apps from more than 30,000 global application developers. Appia is headquartered in Durham, NC with offices in Dallas, TX, and Munich, Germany. For more information, visit www.appia.com, or follow @Appia.

About Opera Software ASA

Opera Software ASA has redefined web browsing for PCs, mobile phones and other networked devices. Opera’s cross-platform web-browser technology is renowned for its performance, standards compliance and small size, while giving users a faster, safer and more dynamic online experience. Opera Software is headquartered in Oslo, Norway, with offices around the world. The company is listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol OPERA. Learn more about Opera at http://www.opera.com/.

GetJar


Dear GetJar Users,

This week we had to take a very drastic and unusual step at GetJar: to remove one of our long-time favourite apps. This is something that we don’t take lightly and is nearly unprecedented in the 5+ years we’ve been distributing apps to consumers in more than 190 countries. The app in question, Opera Mini browser, had racked up more the 30 million downloads on GetJar over the last several years and was one of the most popular apps in the browser category. It was also the winner of the prestigious Gettie Award last year for best mobile app in the Windows Mobile category.

So why did we do this?

Apps on Getjar are free to download. This has always allowed us to provide quick, unrestricted and worldwide access to apps for all our users. It’s a central part of our business and philosophy and one that we find fundamental to allowing consumers to try great content no matter where they live and how they want to consume apps. However, to keep our service running GetJar needs to make money ;)

Therefore, we allow app developers to promote their applications on GetJar using advertising. Developers can obtain extra visibility to promote their apps and pay for this on a per-download-basis. This keeps your content free, keeps us running and allows developers to get extra visibility.

The simple problem is that Opera mini decided to include a competing app store in its browser. Although we don’t have any issue with this in principle, in practice it means that consumers might start using this app store instead of visiting GetJar to get their favourite apps. This robs GetJar of traffic and therefore of the advertising necessary to keep our service free for the more than 25 million consumers that use GetJar. It also jeopardizes an ecosystem that has generated over 1.6 billion downloads for tens of thousands of developers who depend on us to make money from their apps.

Don’t get me wrong: we’re happy to go head-to-head with any other app store and are certain that once you’ve tried the Opera App store you’ll find the depth of content, discovery and download from GetJar more compelling than ever. But it’s an another thing entirely to help competitors grow their business at our expense or that of our community.

We spent many months negotiating with Opera to avoid this scenario and are disappointed that GetJar consumers will no longer have access to Opera Mini. Fortunately, there are a number of excellent options on GetJar for our users including Bitstream Bolt, UC Web browser and Squace. All are excellent products.

In the meantime, we hope to resolve this solution with Opera in the future and want to thank you all for being such dedicated GetJar fans ;)

Thanks,

Patrick Mork, CMO GetJar

» See more articles by Michael Murphy


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