Mauro Del Rio is founder and chairman of Buongiorno

What do you think is the role of the operator in the mobile apps ecosystem?
In the last few years, with the growth of the native app stores, like Apple App Store and Google Play Store, operators lost their central role in the mobile content distribution market.

Web apps programmed in HTML5 represent an opportunity for operators to reclaim a measure of control over the smartphone’s value chain, because they “escape” the native stores as they circulate on the browsers, and discard the proprietary app stores’ 70/30 business model.

Buongiorno seized this opportunity creating several successful HTML5 apps such as PlayPlanet, MuchGossip, FingerBooks, connected with carrier billing as payment model, allowing carriers to play a relevant role and take advantage of a new profitable business based on a different paradigm.

Is fragmentation of device platforms and types (e.g. smartphones/tablets) making it difficult to deliver content to a broad set of customers?
The fragmentation of device platforms is a major problem for app and content developers, because each platform is based on a different operating system and therefore developers must multiply their efforts.

A single cross-platform language for apps and content development represents a huge advantage for developers, who can follow the “write once, deploy everywhere” model, that will massively reduce the cost of creating, versioning and maintaining applications.

AppsFuel, the web app store dedicated to curated HTML5 apps, backed by Buongiorno, has been created for this purpose, as it allows smartphone users to enjoy apps regardless of their device, OS and versions updates. AppsFuel focus is on monetisation: it provides developers with a payment system based on carrier billing, which is the best payment flow available on mobile, with a revenue share aligned with native stores (if not better).

Is HTML5 proving an important tool in enabling you to deliver content to the largest user base?
Of course, HTML5 represents a huge advantage for all mobile users, because it makes them independent from a single platform, as they easily switch — for instance — from iPhone to Android, without losing a single app. HTML5 gives users the opportunity to return to a single billing point, with a better quality of service, a better control of their expenses, and a more secure payment channel.

What is really exciting about HTML5 is that it’s progressing really fast, a lot of new APIs are in progress, and we will see many new features very soon, especially on mobile.

We are really pleased to be among a handful of companies hoping to blaze the trail in this direction. In addition to AppsFuel, the Mozilla Foundation’s Firefox OS is looking to lower the barrier to entry for millions of less expensive devices, opening up this market to developing countries as well.

Is mobile content still a separate business, or has it been subsumed into the wider internet?
Mobile content will remain a separate business if mobile platforms will remain completely separated as they are today, with different proprietary ecosystems. A single open ecosystem based on HTML5 apps and content, which are the same on every platform is definitely a desirable future.

HTML5 mobile apps are getting more and more mind share from the global community of developers and, in this spirit, AppsFuel is joining forces with a truly international movement of companies and individuals embracing the web’s open standards.

What benefits has Buongiorno found from its NTT Docomo relationship?
Thanks to NTT Docomo, Buongiorno entered in a “next level” phase of its growth and we’ll be able to benefit from their advanced experience in mobile device utilisation second to none in the world.

Does the dominance of Apple and Google in smartphone app stores present a challenge for developers and content providers?
Yes, definitely, as developers need to work on different OSs. That’s why HTML5 can be a third way as developers taking advantage of “Web power” and making use of open web technologies, will give consumers a new way to access information, have fun and communicate.

HTML5 is not about replacing native applications; it’s about creating awesome products using web technologies. Native software will continue to run on our computers and smartphones. HTML5 developers should not try to replicate something that already exists, they should try to create something different, and possibly better.

In this scenario AppsFuel wants to become “the Red Bull option in the Coke versus Pepsi battle” in the Apple/Android stores battle.