consumer experience, regulation, technologies

0870 app breaks into top 5*

(*number 5 in on-device App Store; 6 in iTunes)

Last Friday saw the end of a 429 day wait for Simon Maddox’s 0870 application to be approved by Apple – during which time it’s saved UK-based Android customers over £84,000.

Launched back in January on Android, Simon’s 0870 app converts numbers beginning with 08 — such as 0870, 0845 and 0800 which can cost up to 35p per minute to call, on top of already contracted minutes – into standard rate 01* or 02* numbers, which come out of your allowance, or are cheap on Pay As You Go.

0870 in action, saving cash
0870 in action, saving cash

Download link (opens in iTunes) – or search for 0870 in the App Store

During those 429 days when 0870 knocked humbly, yet persistently on the door to Apple’s magical kingdom, only occasional mumblings were received back, mentioning concerns that it circumvented carrier policies.

There’s speculation, still ongoing, that 0870 was rejected because O2 and BT were troubled by allowing iPhone users to make phone calls to 08* numbers, using subscribers’ existing call allowances. This is despite the fact that the application depends on dynamic access to a database of openly available numbers.

Or perhaps Apple wanted to check, and it took a while to get a definitive answer. But getting a simple yes/no definitive and unified answer out of O2 and BT couldn’t possibly take that long, could it..?

Simon was originally told by O2 and BT wouldn’t be happy with the service, but after further abstract exchanges, it appears they relented. And once this happened, Apple approved the app within hours.

However, Guardian reporting states that O2 denied outright that it was the blocker. So it WAS just sitting in Apple’s queue all the while? The issue is clearly a muddy one. But now thankfully academic.

When it eventually came to launch last Friday, 0870 was propelled by commentary from The Telegraph and The Guardian’s technology blogs, helping it to land a whopping 3,140 downloads by the end of that day alone. The weekend saw it surge up the free apps charts into the top ten, and by Monday morning it had rocketed to number 5. And having slapped some trusty admob advertising onto the app, it’s not without a revenue stream.

It’s also supported on other platforms. Thanks to collaborator, Kieran Gutteridge, 0870 is now also available on Sony Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung, LG and Blackberry devices as a JavaME app.

Known as one of the most talented and amiable chaps on London’s mobile developer scene, patience has certainly been a virtue for Simon, and his understandably glowing jubilance was there for all to see as he delivered a session at Over The Air, a mobile developer conference at Imperial College last Friday. Nobody would begrudge him this success.

Well, apart from O2 and BT perhaps.


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