Posted by: Mark Hawkins | February 16, 2010

GSMA’s ‘Wholesale Applications Community’

Yesterday I happened across a radio show discussing one of the major headlines from the first day of this weeks moster Mobile World Congress trade show.

Intended as an antidote to the bemoaned mobile application fragmentation environment, the ‘Wholesale Applications Community’, is described in the GSMA’s release as ‘an ecosystem for the development and distribution of mobile and internet applications irrespective of device or technology.’

Stakeholders aboard: 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.

They’re joined by LG, Samsung and Sony Ericsson in supporting the GSMA-backed initiative. As it stands, no Nokia, Apple or BlackBerry / Research In Motion.

The press release strikes a reasonable balance between high level corporate and ostensibly understanding the needs of developers. But what does it actually mean in immediate practice for developers?

“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.”

Any the wiser? When is day one? Nobody really knows yet.

An editor from ZDNet participated in the radio discussion, saying just that. He also mentioned that the onus was on such stakeholders to do something like this. They couldn’t NOT do something like this.

Although they already are and have been for some time. Several globally collaborative and operator-sponsored movements like this are underway. One is the Joint Innovation Lab (JIL), a developer portal primarily orchestrated by carriers across several continents including Vodafone, Verizon Wireless, China Mobile and Softbank Mobile.

In fact, much of the lower level detail about what will be incorporated into the new GSMA alliance doesn’t appear to be all that new. BONDI OMTP (an open source, operator-sponsored industry collaboration for widget and web technologies), JIL, the GSMA’s own OneAPI: the alliance is openly incorporating all of these already ongoing activities.

“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.”

So you could perceive it as a strong number of powerful new member names essentially piggybacking existing projects. Let’s hope they’re able to contribute equally towards a coherent common standard that’s worth waiting for and actually does what it says on the tin.

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