Opera pitches all-you-can-eat app stores to mobile operators

More app store competition will be good for both users and developers

Opera Software thinks users are ready to subscribe to mobile apps just like music and is pitching curated versions of the company's Mobile Store to operators.

With the Opera Subscription Mobile Store, operators can create their own stores and users pay a weekly fee to download as many apps as they want. The shorter subscription length was chosen to let users dip in and out and to keep the cost down, said Jay Hinman, vice president for Operator Solutions at Opera.

Taking inspiration from the success of the likes of Netflix and Spotify is a good way to try to differentiate a service. But competing with Apple and Google continues to be very difficult, and the all-you-can-eat model doesn't take into account the popularity of in-app payments, according to Paolo Pescatore, director of multiplay and media at market research company CCS Insight.

But Opera is convinced more competition will be good for both developers and users, according to Hinman. For developers, the mobile operator stores offer more flexibility as they can sell apps for Android, BlackBerry and Java. The public Mobile Store adds iOS and Windows Phone. Users will have the freedom to download as many apps as they like.

The mobile operator stores will be curated versions of Opera's existing Mobile Store, offering between 10 percent and 30 percent of the public store's 300,000 apps. The company has already rolled out stores for MTS in Belarus, Russia and the Ukraine as well as for TIM in Brazil, and XL in Indonesia. The cost per week is less than US$1 for all of them.

The number of apps Opera offers still pales in comparison with Google and Apple, which have about 1.47 million and 1.4 million apps and games for their respective OSes, according to app store analytics company Priori Data. But Opera's 300,000 titles and about 100 million visitors every month are still enough to make it a contender, it said.

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Mikael Ricknäs

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