GetJar v Apple


Apple's app marketing model will fail in five years, claims their biggest rival, Ilja Laurs, CEO of the world's second biggest app store GetJar.

That might sound a little overconfident, considering the phenomenal success Apple has enjoyed in a market it invented, boasting 5 billion app downloads in two years.

But this month GetJar celebrated one billion app downloads and won $11 million worth of funding. Which kind of makes you want to listen to what the powerful Lithuanian has to say.

The 34-year-old entrepreneur sees the way Apple distributes it's apps as flawed and it's this chink in their considerable armour that he and his company is exploiting.

"Steve Jobs decides if you can sell an app," he says. "And Apple will take a 30 per cent cut."

"We will distribute any app for free," he says. "If you buy an app through Apple you have to use iTunes for billing."

"This might not suit your business. What if you want to sell via phone credits? Or PayPal?"

With 300,000 registered developers and 40 partnerships with phone service providers and phone makers, Mr Laurs will distribute apps for any platform or device open to him.

So if you are Vodafone and you want to sell your apps via monthly phone charges or on pay as you go, who are you going to call?

"We are the Walmart of apps," he says.

But Mr Laurs, who now divides his time between San Mateo in California and Vilnius, is no anti-Apple iPhone slayer. He loves the new iPhone 4. "It is a beautiful device," he says. (Although, he has a Blackberry Bold within reach during our chat at the Charlotte Street Hotel brasserie.)

"Everyone in America agrees that Apple is the best," he adds.

And, explaining the fact that Android phones are outselling the iPhone in America, he reminds us that it's all about price.

The way GetJar makes it's money is by charging for visibility on its site.

So a developer will come to a deal in which GetJar will earn a percentage for units sold, depending on the positioning it gets on the site and the app's popularity.

The key to Mr Laurs' view is that apps are the medium, not the message, whereas, he argues that at present the mobile phone industry tends to view the apps as content itself.

It's just a shift in how we access the web. After all, an app is just an easy route to a website.

"URLs are dead," he says. "The app icons are the new era. No more typing www, you just see an icon and press it. Anyone can do it."

Simples, as they say.

GetJar boss slams Apple



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