Web & communication software

WAC and JIL Get Together to Push Mobile App Development

Two initiatives to make it easier for developers to sell mobile applications through multiple channels will merge from September.

The Wholesale Applications Community (WAC), a group that plans to make it easier for developers to write apps that can access network information, will join forces with the Joint Innovation Lab (JIL). WAC has appointed the head of JIL as its new CEO ahead of the move.

WAC wants to make it easier for software developers to develop for multiple mobile platforms and market places, so that they can sell the same app for different phones and through different app stores with a minimum of fuss.

"The WAC builds an ecosystem that establishes a route to market for developers and provides consumers with choice -- of device, of operator, and of application," said Peters Suh, the organization's new CEO, in a conference call with journalists.

WAC's plan is to provide a small chunk of code that phone makers can put in their phones, allowing them to access common app store infrastructure provided by WAC through a retail-store interface supplied by the phone subscriber's network operator.

The first phones containing an early version of that vital chunk of code have already been produced, said WAC member Tim Raby, who had been acting CEO until Suh's appointment.

"We have devices today, and we are assuming we will get the first samples of devices with WAC 1.0 in February, and in customer hands by May," he said.

As for the other software elements, "WAC is not providing the retail stores. Those come from the operator, plugging into the WAC infrastructure," he said.

It will be up to store operators to decide how they split application revenue with developers -- and up to developers to decide whether they want to accept those terms. That decision will be as simple as checking a box in a Web interface, Raby said.

So far, WAC has focused on recruiting network operators, but most mobile apps today are sold by phone manufacturers or operating system developers such as Apple, Research In Motion, or Google.

However, "WAC is totally open and these companies are welcome to join. I'm sure we will be talking about relations with some of those companies in the not too distant future," said Raby.

Peter Sayer covers open source software, European intellectual property legislation and general technology breaking news for IDG News Service. Send comments and news tips to Peter at peter_sayer@idg.com.

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