When app stores first came out, I was very excited. Finally, I said, all the right pieces, all together, all correctly placed: the integrated catalog that allows for easy application discovery, the download over the air that works, integrated billing/payment, the ecosystem, the business model, and apps that work. The realization was that app stores were the new deck.

It took years for someone to break the ice. Why do I say break the ice? Because traditionally handset makers have been very careful (afraid?) about crossing the line into the network provider’s turf. Everyone knew that the old the deck stunk bad and that it didn’t work. Yet, no one was willing to cross that line.

But Apple did. And they proved the world how things should be done. Apple also proved that network operators are the reason why when it comes to innovation beyond the network, is why things have stalled for so long. It is nothing personal when I say this, it is just the way it is.

Then came Google, with a similar ideas. Then BlackBerry and Microsoft and Nokia finally. So far so good.

But now we have Comverse and Amdocs offering app stores. See More Apps Stores Unveiled. But why Comverse and Amdocs? Amdocs and Comverse are taking advantage of the new opportunity. They have realized that operators are in a tough position, as all these new app stores are all working around them. So why not put together a (white-labeled) app store infrastructure and offer it to the operators? And in addition to the online catalog, also offer to “review each application and conduct testing, certification and legal reviews before hosting an application in its store.” Again, all this very operator-centric. And with this, app stores will become the new walled-garden, as Andrew Gill writes.

All of this sounds *exactly* as the old deck, doesn’t it? And guess what? It won’t work.

One more thing. A big reason why app stores such as Apples and Google’s work is because the downloaded apps work. And that is possible because the target (number of) platforms were simplified. So 1) let’s start by simplifying the platforms, 2) don’t go back to the old operator-controlled deck.

Well, I should say that it is fine to have operator-controlled app stores, but don’t preclude other/better app stores.

The new deck is much more than trying to copy Apple…

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