News broke on Ars Technica, among other fine tech news sources, that several wireless carriers announced at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that they are coming together to create their own, unified, somewhat open mobile application store that will provide third-party software to people using their networks. Among this group of carriers is Vodafone, Verizon, Sprint, China Mobile, Orange, and AT&T. Handset manufacturers LG, Samsung, and Sony Ericsson are also getting in on this deal, presumably because their hardware will be running these applications.
Several of these carriers are already carriers for the iPhone in their respective markets. They claim that this store is not meant to compete head-on with Apple’s App Store directly, but to simply offer third-party software to everyone who does not own a iPhone, BlackBerry, or Android OS smartphone. Apple does not make much money on the App Store, with most of its money coming from hardware sales driven by Apple’s 140,000-application store.
The carriers do not care about Apple’s sales. To them, Apple is just another hardware manufacturer that they do not have a problem slighting in order to increase their own revenue.
It does not seem likely that Apple will allow applications from this other store to run on their phones, opting to retain their locked-down walled garden of applications custom-built for the iPhone OS and interface. It will be interesting, however, how the presence of an application store that will support LG, Samsung, and Ericsson phones will affect sales of the iPhone or even Android-enabled phones.