Lebanese state-owned cellco Alfa, managed by Egypt’s Orascom Telecom Media & Technology (OTMT), has launched its own mobile application store, which allows local developers to upload their applications for free. The Alfa App Store is available on Android, Symbian and BlackBerry mobile operating systems while iOS-based applications will be available through a web portal managed by Alfa, according to its press release. Over 140 free and paid-for applications are already on offer. The Alfa App Store deducts app fees directly from Alfa customers via their post-paid bill or pre-paid mobile credit account.
The press release adds that the launch comes at a time when data usage is growing exponentially on the Alfa network, ‘exceeding all expectations’. Data traffic doubled in twelve months to reach 7.8TB as of the end of December 2013. Moreover, mobile data usage penetration has exceeded half of Alfa’s customer base – with total data users ‘touching one million’ by the end of February 2014 (of a total of more than 1.85 million customers). Of these subscribers, 65% own a smartphone and 70% of these users have downloaded data apps, giving app developers a large base of potential users ‘who are especially active on social media networks’. As reported by CommsUpdate, Alfa’s rival government-backed mobile operator Touch Lebanon, managed by Kuwait’s Zain Group, recently launched its own app store, similarly aiming to support and drive the development of locally tailored applications.