What are the odds of major telecommunications providers joining forces to help develop cross-platform mobile phone apps? Twenty four to one apparently! Yes indeed, two dozen of the mobile phone world’s operators and manufacturers have announced a collaborative effort aimed at making things a might easier for the mobile application developer.

That the application development market is currently said to be heading for the $6 billion mark during the coming year is (ahem) neither here nor there! You can’t blame this new alliance for wanting to seriously break into such a lucrative market which is ruled by the likes of Apple and Nokia, and to a lesser extent Google. But just imagine the benefits such a move presents to developers.

One Development Platform

By aiming for the adoption of common, cross-platform, cross-device and open standards for application development, the Wholesale Applications Community has paved the way for you, the apps developer, to create just one version of your killer app using just one platform which should then be made available to everyone, irrespective of device or carrier, through a single gateway.

Over the next 12 months, the alliance will work with the likes of the W3C to create a common standard based on the converging of existing Joint Innovation Lab and OMTP BONDI requirements, both of which are being used to kick off proceedings from day one.

Representing some three billion users, the members of the alliance currently includes:


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, Telia Sonera, SingTel, SK Telecom, Sprint, Verizon Wireless, VimpelCom, Vodafone and Wind, as well as Samsung, LG and Sony Ericsson device manufacturers.

The highly influential GSM Association, which looks after the interests of hundreds of mobile operators and related industries, is also supporting the move. And this is just the beginning. The alliance has issued a battle cry for others to join the crusade, “inviting players from across the ICT industry, not only operators and developers, but also handset manufacturers and internet players to join forces to create an initiative based on openness and transparency”.

A Whole New World of Apps

Of course, there will be proprietary technology hurdles to overcome but the potential for mobile device users too is enormous. No matter the mobile phone you opt for on whichever carrier, you should have access to a broad choice of innovative applications and services. You’ll be backed by many of the major players in the world of telecommunications, mobile internet provision and handset manufacture too.

So how will the Jobs’ empire respond to this clear attempt to take a huge bite of its Apple? It would perhaps be just too fanciful a notion to imagine that Apple might actually sign up to the initiative. More likely is a major offensive on the public relations front combined with some attractive incentives for both developers and users alike. Then again, Apple is kind of used to sitting in the out field so might, in fact, decide to ride out whatever storm ensues.

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