WACking Apple's App Store : United Colors of MNOs or WAP redux ?

The Wholesale Applications Community (WAC) chose the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona to announce its foundation. The aim it to make application standards transparent, and services available on as many platforms as possible, or as the association puts it from the customer's point of view : to offer "a broader choice of innovative applications and services available on a wider choice of devices than ever before". From the application developers' point of views it goes like this : "a single gateway (...) to access a vast potential customer base".

How big ? Among the 27 founding members of the WAC, 24 operators claiming 3 bn subs : 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, Telefónica, Telenor Group, Telia Sonera, SingTel, SK Telecom, Sprint, Verizon Wireless, VimpelCom, Vodafone, Wind.

The casting is less impressive for manufacturers : Samsung, LG, Sony Ericsson. Significant players, but all losers in the smartphone standards. Yeah, Samsung is showing off its Samsung Bada OS in Barcelona but come on, that one is not going to become number one. Even Nokia and Intel combined can't make it with their brand new Meego.

Anyway, here's the deal for developers : on one hand, become one of the billion plus apps available in the App Store reserved to iPhone users... and on the other, tap into the 3 billion plus market opened by this elite of haves and havemores.

Tired of the multiplication of proprietary platforms ? The WAC intends to make that layer transparent for you. And when the WAC writes "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)", it's up to every potential "etc" to decide : keep playing it solo or join the party.

Some developers may remember how WAP struggled in its early stages. Will this WAC work ? Fool me once, shame on... shame on you. Fool me... you can't get fooled again'.

Can you ?

I think Vodafone, Orange & co remember perfectly the WAP episode. Since then MNOs proved they could work on common platforms to boost the ecosystem (ie Gallery in France). And if they fight against each other, they would love to commoditize markets they cannot rule anyway.

I'm not worried about technology roadmaps and paths.

But the editorial line... believe me, that one is gonna be a long and winding one.

mot-bile 2010

* see "
Leading Operators Unite to Unleash Global Apps potential" (20100215 - on wholesaleappcommunity.com, the association's website)

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