Two Dozen Telecoms Unite to Form Apple App Store Rival

AT&T, Orange, Telefónica, China Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, and several more carriers have announced the formation of the Wholesale Applications Community, which aims to create a viable alternative to Apple's walled-garden approach to apps.

They'll be joined on the hardware side by LG, Samsung, and Sony Ericsson as they attempt to create an open system for app development and distribution. What they lack in momentum they make up for in mass: combined, the alliance services more than three billion customers worldwide.

There's no question that apps are big business, especially for Apple, but to date it's been largely limited to Apple and, to a lesser extent, the Android Market. The Wholesale Applications Community plans to initially use JIL and OMTP BONDI requirements to work towards a common standard within a year. Eventually, they hope to establish a common standard where apps can be ported across mobile platforms.

The amount of fragmentation in the app world has only been increasing, so it should be a relief to developers and consumers to see an effort to streamline the process while at the same time opening it up. It'll be interesting, though, to see how quickly and effectively they can pull actual standards together. With that many chefs, it can be hard not to spoil the soup.

Leading Operators Unite to Unleash Global Apps Potential

Wholesale Applications Community to push apps market to over 3 billion customers with strong support by world-leading device manufacturers

BARCELONA, Spain—(BUSINESS WIRE)—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.

"This approach is completely in line with the principles of the GSMA, and in fact leverages the work we have already undertaken on open network APIs (OneAPI). This is tremendously exciting news for our industry and will serve to catalyse the development of a range of innovative cross-device, cross-operator applications."

América Móvil, 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, 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.

The Wholesale Applications Community aims to unite a fragmented marketplace and create an open industry platform that benefits everybody – from applications developers and network operators to mobile phone users themselves.

The alliance's stated goal is to create a wholesale applications ecosystem that – from day one – will establish a simple route to market for developers to deliver the latest innovative applications and services to the widest possible base of customers around the world. In the immediate future the alliance will seek to unite members' developer communities and create a single, harmonised point of entry to make it easy for developers to join.

"The GSMA is fully supportive the Wholesale Applications Community, which will build a new, open ecosystem to spur the creation of applications that can be used regardless of device, operating system or operator," said Rob Conway, CEO and Member of the Board, GSMA. "This approach is completely in line with the principles of the GSMA, and in fact leverages the work we have already undertaken on open network APIs (OneAPI). This is tremendously exciting news for our industry and will serve to catalyse the development of a range of innovative cross-device, cross-operator applications."

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, we 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.

The alliance will serve as one point of contact for the industry and is open to all relevant parties – from telecommunications operators and device manufacturers to internet service providers and application software developers. For more information go to www.wholesaleappcommunity.com or email info@wholesaleappcommunity.com.