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2/16/2010
00:01 AM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
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27 Companies Join Forces Against Apple App Store

The Wholesale Application Community, or WAC for sort, announced at Mobile World Congress on Monday that 27 companies have joined forces to provide an alternative to Apple's App Store for developers. Frustration with the approval process has been growing among the developer community. Will this appeal to the disillusioned?

The Wholesale Application Community, or WAC for sort, announced at Mobile World Congress on Monday that 27 companies have joined forces to provide an alternative to Apple's App Store for developers. Frustration with the approval process has been growing among the developer community. Will this appeal to the disillusioned?There is a long list of companies that are part of WAC. 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 have signed up as the carriers. There are three hardware manufactures that have signed up too - Samsung, LG and Sony Ericsson.

What exactly is their goal? From their site:

The primary role and objective of the alliance is to create a "wholesale applications community" that will establish a simple route to market for developers, in turn, providing access to the latest and widest range of innovative applications and services to as many customers as possible worldwide. This alliance will deliver scale unparalleled by any application distribution ecosystem in existence today.

The list of carriers appears to have at least one company from the major markets across the globe, and the manufacturers listed certainly have a global presence. I find it odd that AT&T is listed as they are a huge beneficiary of the App Store since the iPhone is currently the hottest single smartphone ever. They could be hedging their bets for a day when they lose exclusivity, or they could be trying to get more leverage against Apple to benefit them in future negotiations.

Call me a skeptic, but i don't see it happening. Many of the carriers could partner up for this since they don't compete for share, but do you see AT&T and Verizon agreeing to anything, other than to continue to bash each other in their commercials? Not only that, but you've got a huge task of laying out the specs for such a store to handle a wide variety of operating systems. Not only are there five major smartphone platforms besides the iPhone, there are several feature phone platforms that can accept apps.

As I've said before, the platform maker is in the best position to make the app store for a given platform. Many of the carriers and manufacturers in WAC already have their own stores, and it is their "success" that has necessitated the forming of WAC in the first place.

Any consortium with this many carriers is bound to get bogged down in its own bureaucracy and never see the light of day. They have already set expectations low. According to Good Gear Guide, they hope to have a single specification within a year. Once that is done you have to get developers enrolled, build the infrastructure for it and get the application stores on devices. Best case scenario in my opinion? Three years. That is an epoch in the mobile phone timeline.

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