At MWC a number of the world’s leading telco companies including Vodafone, Orange, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, LG, Deutsche Telecom, SK Telecom, Verizon, AT&T or China Mobile have announced the formation of an international alliance called ”Wholesale Applications Community” (WAC) - to battle Apple.
They are aiming to build an open platform for mobile apps to all mobile phone users and want to solve the massive fragmentation problem.
They try to develop a common standard for applications within the next 12 months. The WAC is supposed to be a platform NOT an app store.
Of course, the app market is still a lucrative business and growing. Analysts at Gardner predict that the number of app downloads will rise to 4.5 billion (from 2.5 billion last year), yielding almost $30bn.
So far so good. But what does that mean, especially for us developers? Is this the right approach in the ”write once, run anywhere” direction?
The good thing is that the group intends to use existing open standards (JIL, BONDI, W3C) and that will make it a lot easier for developers creating apps across multiple platforms. Besides developers then have only one single gateway to access a vast potential and international customer base. It also saves a lot of time and resources. And the new alliance has access to more than three billion customers.
Well, does this sound too perfect to you? There are still a lot of questions and even doubts, right? Did they form this alliance just to beat Apple or do they really care about the developers? I mean in the end they are all competitors and every one wants a big - if not the biggest - part of the “app market cake”, right?
I also think it will be really hard to manage an organization of so many well-known and big companies. There will be many time-consuming processes to make even small decisions everybody is pleased with. We can see similar things going on at the W3C already.
Another important fact is that some platforms are already “hopelessly fragmented” as giagom points out: Windows has struggled with the splintering of Windows Mobile and Google is suffering from the emergence of multiple versions of Android.
Will the WAC succeed? I guess it is too early to answer this question, but for sure it will be very very difficult to reach their ambitious goals - if not impossible. The idea is good and the app market needs standardization, but there are a lot of obstacles to overcome. Probably too many for the big companies that are involved in this organization.
Maybe this kind of organization should be built by developers, not telcos who are mainly interested in selling not building apps. Even the Chamber of Industry and Commerce consists of handicraft businesses not of retailers. What do you think?