getjar1For a brand manager, fussing over the features of a bunch of mobile apps is a distraction from the much larger mission of getting consumers to install the brand on their phones.

Building a custom app to stand out in Apple’s 85,000-app store, or the growing app collections for every other phone, is too hard. And what about all the other not-a-huge-hit phones? Are you going to support them, too?

GetJar, the cross-platform mobile app library that’s been around since 2005, has a solution. They’ve developed an App Download Page that the company describes as “a new service for mobile developers and content owners seeking to provide a simple experience for their users to download the right mobile app for their phone, independent of device platform, model or carrier.”

fb-screenLet me simplify that: GetJar can park a logo on the home screen of just about any phone made.

The trick is that GetJar’s apps, like Yahoo’s OneSearch tool for my BlackBerry, pop open the customer’s browser. Installing a working web link with a logo is easy. As a brand manager, you throw it back on the tech guys to figure out how to make the Web destination for your brand logo something interesting that leads the user to bond with the brand.

Facebook has a GetJar-powered App Download Page that puts Facebook on phones that aren’t the high-powered smartphones Americans love. It works on the Nokia 5300, as shown at right.

Photobucket has announced in that they’re going to use GetJar this fall, too.

This is boring stuff for techies — oooh, a link to HTML, zzzz — but I’m pretty stoked about the idea that VentureBeat fans can just put a VentureBeat logo on their non-Apple phone screen and not need to know how it works, not need to install complicated software with bugs, and would probably be delighted that, duh, it’s just a link to our website. We — I mean the VentureBeat reporting staff — haven’t pressed for a mobile branding presence, because we’re afraid of the business development meetings. We’re hoping it’ll just show up.

gg

The question for both brand managers and software developers is, does a browser-based app now do everything you need? At VentureBeat’s MobileBeat 2009 conference in July, GetJar CEO Ilja Laurs very much disagreed with Google Engineering VP Vic Gundotra, although the two didn’t argue in person. Apps will be as big as the Internet, Laurs told attendees. No, everything will be delivered through a browser, Gundotra told attendees.

The App Download Page gives the impression the browser is coming up from behind. As a complement to, rather than a replacement for, the company’s extensive application catalog, the new Web-based tool lets GetJar have it both ways.