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Mobile World Congress Feature Articles

February 14, 2011

Wireless Operators, Vendors Release WAC 2.0 in Push to Expand App Ecosystem


The Wholesale Applications Community – which launched at last year’s Mobile World Congress – this week at the Barcelona event revealed that it now has 68 member companies, eight service providers that have on-boarded WAC (News - Alert), five device markers supporting the spec in their products, and 12,000 applications in place.


WAC, an alliance of the world’s largest telecommunications operators and device manufacturers, had a stellar group of executives at its press conference today at Mobile World Congress. Appearing at the event along with Peters Suh, CEO of WAC, were: Randall Stephenson, chairman, CEO and president of AT&T; Hans Vestberg, president and CEO of Ericsson (News - Alert); Hyun- Myung Pyo of KT; Jean-Philippe Vanot of Orange; JK Shin, president of the mobile division at Samsung; Julio Linares, COO of Telefónica; and Michel Combes, deputy CEO of Vodafone.

The group’s aim is to release specifications to help expedite the creation and support of applications that can run on any device, any operating system and any member mobile operators’ network. It is also working to avail its service provider members’ network resources, such as presence information, to the developer community in a standard way.

“We want to maximize customer choice,” said Stephenson at AT&T (News - Alert), talking about the cross-platform benefits of WAC. “Almost half of our customers are accessing the same content on three or more devices.”

WAC 1.0, which is HTML 4-based, was released in September. That’s the version of WAC on which today’s run-time applications are based.

The WAC 2.0 specification unveiled this week at Mobile World Congress is based on HTML 5, so will allow for more rich media web-based applications. WAC 2.0 also offers stronger security and support for file system, calendar and orientation.

Once you open the door to HTML 5, said Stephenson, you develop applications that work on multiple platforms and operating systems.

“That’s when the 12,000 [applications] becomes a down payment,” he added.

WAC 3.0 is scheduled for release in September of this year. Like the second iteration, it will be based on HTML 5. It also will add network APIs and support for things like billing.

 “It’s truly amazing to see the speed of the executive of WAC,” said Hyun- Myung Pyo of KT (News - Alert).

The service providers that have on-boarded WAC at this point include China Mobile, MTS, Orange, Telefonica, telenor, SMART, Verizon and Vodafone. The five device makers include LG, Huawei, Samsung, Sony Ericsson (News - Alert) and ZTE.

Although WAC is creating app specs, Suh said different service providers will maintain their own app stores (although Ericsson mentioned that it offers a white-label app store that it can maintain for service providers if they wish) and set their own pricing for applications.

Linares of Telefónica said that when his company started its app ecosystem it began by working with developers at the local level in different countries, but it soon realized that was not the most efficient path to building an ecosystem. So Telefónica began a larger push to create an ecosystem. But the WAC effort takes all this to the global level, he said, so that seemed a logical evolution for Telefónica’s efforts on this front.




Edited by Tammy Wolf










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