Operator Led Mobile App Community Makes Headway

Operators have merged two different platforms for distributing Web-based mobile applications, in a effort to start competing with the likes of Apple's AppStore and Google's Market.

In February, a number operators, including China Mobile, Verizon Wireless and Vodafone, formed the Wholesale Applications Community (WAC) with the goal of allowing people to use one platform to develop and distribute Web-based mobile applications that can run on a multitude of phones and be sold by the members. The operators have so far largely failed to profit from the mobile application boom, but they are hoping to change that with the work WAC is doing.

In July, WAC acquired the Joint Innovation Lab (JIL), which had developed a platform for mobile web-based widgets. The purchase allowed WAC to speed up development of its platform by basing it on JIL's. WAC version 1.0, based on JIL 1.2.2, was published Monday. The 111-page document is aimed getting engineers and developers acquainted with the platform.

All projects of this nature depend on attracting backing from across the industry. WAC announced new operator members on Monday -- including KDDI, Rogers Communications and SFR -- which can make the platform more attractive to developers, since the number of potential application users goes up.

WAC has also added a number of software company members, including Myriad Group and Opera, which will both make their browsers compatible with the WAC platform. Applications based on the specification will either run using a separate application on the phone or as an integrated part of the browser. Backing from the browser companies will likely make it easier for users to acquire and install WAC applications.

The WAC platform is also backed by phone makers Samsung and LG Electronics, which are expected to put the platform on their phones by February next year.

Other new members include Intel, Accenture, Ericsson, Huawei, the LiMo Foundation and Qualcomm.

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