Twenty-four leading telecommunications operators have formed the Wholesale Applications Community, an alliance to build an open platform that delivers applications to all mobile phone users.
America Movil, AT&T, Bharti Airtel, China Mobile, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, KT, mobilkom austria group, MTN Group, NTT DoCoMo, Orange, Orascom Telecom, Softbank Mobile, Telecom Italia, Telefnica, Telenor Group, TeliaSonera, SingTel, SK Telecom, Sprint, Verizon Wireless, VimpelCom, Vodafone and Wind are committed to create an ecosystem for the development and distribution of mobile and internet applications irrespective of device or technology.
Together, these operators have access to over three billion customers around the world. The GSMA and three of the world's largest device manufacturers -- LG Electronics, Samsung and Sony Ericsson -- also support this initiative.
According to the newly formed group's mission statement, "For the developer, particularly small developers, the alliance will create 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 alliance will provide a single gateway for developers to access a vast potential customer base (over three 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 utilise existing technical standards, rather than creating new ones to allow developers to access operators' assets, for example network capabilities or API's 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, Windows, etc) which is not the case today."
Jonathan Arber, Senior Research Analyst at independent analyst house, IDC, said: "Attracting and retaining developers is vital for any application store offering to succeed. However, mobile application developers currently face a high level of fragmentation in the industry, in terms of both technology platforms, and individual operators' working practices. Developers want to meet the largest possible addressable market, as efficiently and painlessly as possible, and the Wholesale Applications Community initiative can meet these criteria by providing a simple, single point of access to a large number of operator storefronts. The initiative should also help to drive uptake of existing, open standards among developers, operators and manufacturers, thereby reducing fragmentation and benefiting the whole industry."
The alliance plans to initially use both the JIL and OMTP BONDI requirements, evolving these standards into a common standard within the next 12 months. Ultimately, they will collectively work with the W3C for a common standard based on our converged solution to truly ensure developers can create applications that port across mobile device platforms, and in the future between fixed and mobile devices.