updated 09:00 am EST, Mon February 15, 2010
Wholesale Apps Community takes on Apple
The GSM Association today unveiled an alliance for a common app store platform meant to challenge Apple. Known as the Wholesale Applications Community, the service will create an open, standard way of developing and selling apps across multiple phone operating systems and networks. The partnership will include phone builders LG, Samsung and Sony Ericsson, as well as 24 major carriers that include all four major US networks and major internationals like China Mobile, Orange and Telefonica.
Development will primarily hinge on a mix of the Java Intermediate Language and the Open Mobile Terminal Platform that should become a common standard within a year.
GSMA explains the move as a bid to avoid "fragmentation" in the mobile app industry, where different operating systems have led to many apps only being available on some platforms and in some cases only for certain carriers. It specifically creates a more united front against Apple, whose App Store is currently the largest in the world and in some cases has been softening or even stealing smartphone market share from the three hardware manufacturers in the WAC partnership.
Whether or not it will succeed is uncertain. While Java is used to some degree across Android, BlackBerry, BREW, Windows Mobile and other mobile phone operating systems, the implementations don't necessarily make development straightforward. Many also need OS-specific code to take full advantage of native technology.