When starting to build your app, there is the issue of which platform should be used. If you decide your app is more suitable to be distributed by a carrier rather than an app store, Renee Szuhai notes that there are some important things to consider. While working with carriers is a viable option, there are also manypotential challenges, and developers should be clear about and what they hope to achieve before they begin negotiations.
For example: Who is the target audience? How will billing be arranged? What platforms are being targeted, and how will integration be organised? Contract negotiation is another issue: Will the app be geared toward particular carriers or regions? How widely will the app be distributed; is it proprietary, national, or global? Then there is Over-The-Air (OTA) functionality and Application Programming Interface (API) support to consider.
Fortunately, the Global System Mobile Association (GSMA) has launched its ‘OneAPI’ pilot programme in Canada. OneAPI is an agreed standard for Network APIs among different mobile networks. Since OneAPI does the work of negotiating with carriers, developers can use it to make their apps available nationally to all carrier customers in a single step.
The GSMA website LINK explains
OneAPI in this way:
The OneAPI Exchange is an infrastructure that provides developers with access to mobile network operator assets via APIs. This infrastructure federates different operators into one unit providing a wider reach for developers.
As a developer you will set up a relationship with one mobile network operator. This operator will expose RESTful APIs to you. Once you have implemented these APIs and published your app, the API calls are federated through the OneAPI Exchange backend infrastructure to all of the other participating operators. This allows you to increase your reach to all subscribers of the other operators.
Negotiating with individual carriers can be a difficult experience, as Renee notes. Rogers is the only Canadian carrier that currently has a developer programme, and using this might limit an app’s distribution to Rogers’ customers. On the other hand, for all but the largest developers it can be very difficult to attract the attention of other carriers such as Bell and Telus. Renee likens the experience to ‘swimming through peanut butter,’ noting that even finding the right person to contact can be a trial, after which negotiations can drag on for months. Then there are the issues of arranging integration for billing, messaging, location, payment, and so on. The whole process, Renee notes, can be a bit of a headache.
For app developers, working with carriers is an option, but one that comes with its own issues and challenges.
Video: Working with Carriers