Carriers Team Up to Create Multi-Platform App Store
Twenty-four wireless carriers from around the world have united to create their own store for mobile phone apps, taking aim at Apple's wildly successful iTunes App Store as well as the Android market. The Wholesale Applications Community
, announced at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona today, is an alliance of major carriers – including AT&T, Verizon, NTT DoCoMo, Deutsche Telekom, China Mobile and Vodafone – plan to develop a so-called “open technology platform" within the next 12 months. The standard will be independent of phone type and operating system.
According to a statement by the founders of the alliance, they plan to create what they call "a wholesale applications ecosystem" with the goal of creating "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," The first step, they say, is to "unite members’ developer communities and create a single, harmonized point of entry" for developers. Claiming a potential user base of three billion subscribers around the world, they hope to entice mobile app developers to rely less on the App Store, which carriers feel create loyalty for a particular device rather than a carrier. They hope the ease of developing for a single marketplace will be more attractive than a separate process for Apple, Google, Research In Motion and Nokia app stores.
But the plan is already drawing skepticism by industry observers. Informa Telecoms analyst Mark Newman tells 9to5Mac
that the competition between carriers could hinder progress towards this ambitious goal, and wonders "whether such a large group of mobile operators will be able to achieve the level of cooperation and integration required to make this initiative a success,” Also, Newman said, developers "have historically distrusted operators because of the unfavorable revenue share deals that have been on the table.” Senior analyst Guillermo Escofot also wonders if carriers will have "the brand "coolness" necessary" to attract top developers.