NEW YORK AT&T Inc, the second largest U.S. mobile provider, is the second major carrier in the United States to promote the mobile applications store of GetJar, a privately held company that is trying to compete with companies like Google Inc and Research In Motion.
Starting on Tuesday, AT&T will let customers use a mobile apps store run by GetJar on about 50 different AT&T phone models ranging from the company's cheapest phones to BlackBerry smartphones, the companies said.
But the GetJar store -- which carries some 75,000 different applications and games, including Internet viral sensation Angry Birds -- will not work on AT&T's highest profile phone, the Apple Inc iPhone.
IDC analyst Al Hilwa said the inclusion of a new app store could be an effort by AT&T to begin to lessen its dependence on the iPhone, as it is widely expected to lose its exclusive U.S. right to sell the device next year.
"This gives them a way to go past Apple and leverage the app store for customers not on the Apple platform," he said.
Still, the GetJar selection, while close in number to the roughly 100,000-applications Google offers in its Android store, pales in comparison to Apple's 300,000-plus apps.
Patrick Mork, GetJar's chief marketing officer said the inclusion of the store on phones from Sprint Nextel, the third largest U.S. mobile provider, has helped boost app sales by up to 15 percent. But he did not give an estimate for sales to AT&T customers for GetJar, which is backed by Facebook investors Accel Partners.
AT&T said that it now lists GetJar on its Media Mall software portal, where consumers can go to download a GetJar app in order to use the store.
Mork conceded that some consumers may be put off by having to take the extra step of downloading the GetJar app.
But he said AT&T's inclusion of a link to the app store in its Media Mall portal would help advertise the store.
"The vast majority of consumers don't know what GetJar is," said Mork. "By having GetJar listed as an app you can download, they're giving us visibility."
(Reporting by Sinead Carew; editing by Carol Bishopric)