Strength in numbers, indeed.
At this week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, twenty-four cellular carriers from around the globe announced they will be joining forces to offer an alternative to Apple's App Store.
The new Wholesale Applications Community consists of Am√©rica M√≥vil, 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, Telef√≥nica,
Telenor Group, TeliaSonera, SingTel, SK Telecom, Sprint, Verizon
Wireless, VimpelCom, Vodafone and Wind. Their goal is to create an open platform that delivers applications to all mobile phone users.
The Community has already gotten pledges of support from the GSM Association as well as handset manufacturers LG Electronics, Samsung and Sony Ericsson.
While the iPhone — and to a lesser extent, Android devices — have shown the market potential for a centralized app marketplace, the phone market as a whole has suffered too long from fragmentation and diluted results due to competition. If the WAC can actually come together to present a unified, Android-style open-source hardware/software/OS front, it will mean that developers can reach more customers, who in turn will not have to compromise between phones, carriers, and available apps.