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Mobile World Congress Feature Articles

February 15, 2010

Consortium of Major Wireless Operators, Handset Makers, to Launch Mobile Applications 'Super Store'


AT&T, Sprint (News - Alert), Verizon and about 24 other mobile communications technology companies are reportedly planning to build an online mobile applications 'super store' which would provide mobile applications for a wide range of devices.


The announcement was made by the GSMA Monday during Mobile World Congress 2010 currently underway in Barcelona, Spain. This is the first time a group of major mobile technology companies have joined together on such an initiative.
 
The new mobile app store -- dubbed Wholesale Applications Community  -- will be designed to encourage developers to create mobile and online applications for all smartphones and operating systems, according to the GSMA (News - Alert).
 
The consortium, which also includes Samsung, Sony Ericsson and LG Electronics (News - Alert), aims to create an open platform.
 
The goal of the project is to “establish a simple route to market for developers and provide access to the latest and widest range of innovative applications and services to as many customers as possible worldwide,” the group states on its newly launched Web site.

“Together, we have signed a memorandum of understanding with the aim of building an environment or ’wholesale applications community’ where innovative applications can be developed irrespective of device or technology,” the groups states. “The new alliance, which represents more than three billion customers worldwide, is inviting players from across the ICT industry, not only operators and developers, but also handset manufacturers and internet players to join forces to create an initiative based on openness and transparency. We believe this model presents the most compelling format on the market where developers will thrive and customers will reap the benefits of greater choice.”

The new app store will be particularly beneficial to small developers, as it will provide an environment “in which they can flourish and create applications in a straight-forward and effective manner.”

“Today, the route to market for developers is challenging requiring them to approach multiple operators,” the group states. “The alliance will provide a single gateway for developers to access a vast potential customer base (over two billion with limited cost to the developer and this in turn will provide the maximum possible return on investment for them.”

“In addition, the alliance will utilize existing technical standards, rather than creating new ones to allow developers to access operators’ assets, for example network capabilities or API’s (Application Programming Interfaces) more easily. In practice this means that developers will only have to create one version of their application and this can be used on multiple types of devices and operating systems (such as Symbian, Android (News - Alert), Windows etc) which is not the case today.”
 
This is a reversal of the trend wherein mobile device makers and service providers put a lock on which applications can be used on which devices and networks. For example, Apple’s iPhone (News - Alert) can only run applications made for it (that is, unless the phone is “unlocked”) and the applications can only be purchased through the Apple store.
 
By creating a new platform, the Wholesale Applications Community aims to let developers write programs that can be used on multiple smartphones instead of just one.

Patrick Barnard is a senior Web editor for TMCnet, covering call and contact center technologies. He also compiles and regularly contributes to TMCnet e-Newsletters in the areas of robotics, IT, M2M, OCS and customer interaction solutions. To read more of Patrick's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Patrick Barnard










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