Maxis, leading cellular provider and exclusive iPhone distributor in Malaysia, just launched its mobile applications marketplace, 1Store Developer Sentral. The 1Store (the name most likely aspired by 1Malaysia) will feature Java/Symbian-based mobile applications. Developers (individuals and companies) can now register at here. And the applications are available to over 11.4 million Maxis and Hotlink subscribers. Maxis is using its existing billing infrastructure to charge subscribers for downloading applications from 1Store. It is opening up its billing APIs to both purchases and in-app micropayments. Developers will then get paid via funds transfer (for local developers) and TT (for foreign developers).
Competition is intense in Malaysian cellular market. Pricing no longer an effective competitive advantage; price war can only go so far. Mobile Number Portability (MNP) has eliminated the hassles of changing carriers. Differentiation takes different forms. Tactics are being deployed by three key players – Maxis, DiGi and Celcom – to enhance its ecosystems and content play is a popular one – DiGi with its DiGi Music, Maxis with Music Unlimited and Celcom with Channel [X].
Maxis venturing into applications with 1Store, quite similar to the strategy adopted by smartphone makers – Apple with App Store, Nokia’s Ovi, BlackBerry’s App World and Google’s Android Market. Smartphone players use the apps to enhance the perceived value of their phones and enhances lock-ins; Maxis is planning to use applications to enhance the perceived value of the Maxis ecosystem and ultimately, increase subscribers and decrease subscribers’ churn rate.
Expect Maxis to continue to use its scale to corner the market with first-mover advantage and DiGi with late-comer strategy i.e. let the market play out and then find missing gaps to position itself. Think Broadband Done Right campaign. DiGi is a late-entrant in the Malaysian mobile broadband market but the company is gaining market share with its pricing and service quality. For DiGi, it’s launch-and-learn strategy with a twist – let-others-launch-first-and-learn-from-them approach. As for Celcom, it will continue to position itself as No. 1 in all Celcom territories.