The Apps Beta program, announced Thursday, is designed to be an incubator for mobile programs that will likely be sold through the carrier's portals. These apps are generally aimed at non-smartphones, or smartphones without a dedicated app ecosystem like the App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch.
A typical trial program lasts four to six weeks, and developers can interact with a community to get feedback on their app. This can involve pointing out bugs, feature suggestions, and ratings. Developers have a financial incentive to join the program, as well-received apps can potentially get marketing help from AT&T and partners, as well as prominent placement in AT&T's MEdia Mall.
"We hope that by facilitating this level of collaboration between the developer community and early adopters, we'll see even more innovation as developers gain valuable customer insights that will ultimately benefit their long-term application development and marketing strategy," David Christopher, AT&T's chief marketing officer, said in a statement.
The move comes as mobile apps are becoming an increasingly important part of the mobile experience. While smartphone stores like the BlackBerry App World and Google's Android Market attract a lot of attention in this field, there is ample opportunity for developers targeting non-smartphones. Rival Verizon Wireless has seen much success with its V Cast slate of services, which is primarily used on regular cell phones.
Mobile applications can boost a workforce's productivity but can bring up multiple questions about security. InformationWeek analyzed how to get a handle on locking down data when it's on the move, and the report can be downloaded here (registration required).