T-Mobile just released more details about its Development Application program today at CTIA. T-Mobile USA, the fourth-largest carrier, sat down with us at CTIA today to give us the details of its developer program that will launch next week in beta. Last month, we broke the news that T-Mobile was gearing up to take the extraordinary step of ditching its traditional deck on the phone and replacing it with a platform that’s open to almost any developer. The idea is to create a similar experience to Apple’s App store, but one that will span the entire handset line-up from smartphone to feature phone.
Here are the details :
– The process: Espinoza: “This is designed to make dealing with T-Mobile as easy as possible…There’s no more having to know who to talk to.” Next week, the site will provide a rate card, outlining the standard business arrangement with T-Mobile, which she said is designed to let the developer understand the economics involved, and there will be a click-through agreement, where literally a developer clicks and agrees to the terms.
– The economics: The developers will be able to set the price of the app, and the “revenue forecaster” explains the economics of the deal. A baseline for the developer’s initial cut is 50 percent, and then based on certain perimeters, it may increase to 70 percent (remember, the App store currently has an across the board 70/30 split with developers). First off, the revenue split is determined by the amount of bandwidth the applications use, but developers can boost up their percentage by abiding to a couple of rules. The first is by providing customer care through at least two access points, such as a phone number and email. Another way is by supporting at least 10 T-Mobile devices, two of which being the most popular in the network. Espinoza: “We are really lowering that bar compared to what carriers typically expect.”
– Technical support: T-Mobile will not only provide technical support for the program, but it is also providing devices to test apps on and a virtual lab. The loaner program for the devices is free except for shipping costs associated with sending the handsets. Espinoza said when it comes to porting and the fragmentation in the industry, she said that’s a component developers have learned to deal with although they don’t like it. “Some have done a good job and have developed apps that port more easily so it is less cumbersome.”
– Free Apps: Espinoza said that free applications will be allowed in the program for no cost to the developer. However, it must not be a bandwidth hog. Two examples that will not be allowed are streaming video and audio, however, a photo service of some kind would likely be OK. Advertising will not be allowed at first.
– APIs and Platforms: Today, T-Mobile does not provide APIs to developers, and that will be the same for the developer program. However, “the intention is that we’ll open this up over time.” This will include things like location-based services, access to a person’s contacts, MyFaves or access to the camera. “We are looking at basic apps initially.” For now, the program will support Java, RIM and Windows Mobile, but not Android or Sidekick.
– The old way: Espinoza said this will be an additional channel. The carrier will continue to have its traditional business development team, so if a company doesn’t agree with one of the above items, they can try to negotiate different terms. Likewise, if a company that is currently working with the carrier believes they can get a better deal through the developer program, they can resubmit through the developer program.