Vodacom CEO Pieter Uys on Friday morning piqued the interest of SA smartphone users when he tweeted: “Just announced an SA apps ecosystem including local application store launching next week”.
Now more details have emerged about the company’s plans. From 1 September, Vodacom customers will be able to access more than 140 000 apps via Vodacom Apps, an online store powered by Appia, one of the world’s largest open application marketplaces.
Vodacom Apps will support major mobile platforms, including Google’s Android, Research in Motion’s BlackBerry, Java, Nokia’s Symbian and Windows Phone. Only Apple products are missing from the store, but as Apple doesn’t allow for third-party stores that is unavoidable.
“The launch of this app store is just the beginning,” says Uys. “We’re building an entire community that will supply homegrown apps relevant to the SA environment.
“With all the talent available in this country, there’s no reason we can’t create our own application industry. The great part about this store is that it caters for so many users — in fact, more than 10m cellphones on our network can run at least Java apps,” says Uys.
Vodacom Apps users will be able to download free apps, for which standard data charges will apply. In the near future, Vodacom will introduce paid-for apps, which customers can pay for using airtime.
The company has also launched the Vodacom Developer Programme to provide SA developers with technical and commercial support, including training, workshops and incentives over the coming months.
The app store will be available from 1 September at vodacom.mobi/apps or from the Apps feature on Vodafone Live. — Staff reporter, TechCentral