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AT&T chief wants cross-platform mobile app sales

updated 02:25 pm EST, Wed February 16, 2011

ATT CEO wants app purchases across platforms

AT&T chief Randall Stephenson in an event at Mobile World Congress on Tuesday called for a system that let users keep app ownership across platforms. He argued it was frustrating that buying an app on one platform didn't give you the rights to the app on another. He saw solutions such as the Wholesale Applications Community (WAC) or HTML5 as being better models, although few phones actually support WAC or use HTML5 in a major way for apps.

The executive cast it as unnatural and assumed that the basic feature phone model of Java or Brew-based apps was more representative of what AT&T users dealt with. "That's not how our customers expect to experience this environment," Stephenson said.

While the approach would prevent mobile app store lock-in, the push for WAC is primarily an attempt to revert control of app sales back to the carrier in the way it existed before the iPhone. Carriers have regularly preferred to run custom portals that let them control what apps and services customers are allowed to use. They have historically been opposed to any measure that would hasten the transition to becoming a "dumb pipe" like any other Internet provider.

Critics of the carriers' desired strategy have noted that taking the store out of their hands can potentially prevent them from banning apps that are competitive with their own services. Google has some control, but its decision to leave Android open for all parties has let carriers like AT&T and Verizon restrict what apps are allowed and what features will work.



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. brainiac

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Sep 2003

    +4

    Yeah

    Yes, why should an application that I buy for my Mac not work on Windows and Linux and Unix? I think everybody should develop in Java so that we could completely level the playing field and everybody gets the same experience based upon the least common denominator. And when the heck are my Playstation games going to start working on my Nintendo?

  1. njfuzzy

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2001

    +5

    Haha!

    This is never going to happen. The sole reason that Apple, Android, etc. have for their application marketplaces is to make customers stick to one OS platform because of their application preferences/investment. This is a proposal that a carrier could love, but it's hard to imagine an OS vendor getting behind it.

  1. Foe Hammer

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Feb 2005

    +9

    And Maybe ...

    Microsoft will give me a free version of Office for Windows when I buy the Mac version and vice-versa. I bet Adobe can't wait to do the same thing with CS either. I bet the whole industry can't wait to just jump on this ... kinda in the way a frisky Jack Russell jumps on your leg.

  1. cmoney

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Sep 2000

    0

    Control and the lesser of two evils

    "Critics of the carriers' desired strategy have noted that taking the store out of their hands can potentially prevent them from banning apps that are competitive with their own services."

    Taking the store out of AT&T's grubby hands has simply transferred control to Apple. Either way, a big profit-seeking corporation has its own interests as top priority.

  1. dutch28

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Feb 2011

    +25

    Uh huh...

    And the phone I buy with your network should work with any other network I choose to go to... right?

  1. cmoney

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Sep 2000

    0

    Re: Uh huh...

    You've actually got a much better chance of using your AT&T phone with another network than other carriers. Apart from the iPhone it's pretty easy to get an unlock code once your contract is over.

  1. aross99

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2006

    +4

    comment title

    "The executive cast it as unnatural and assumed that the basic feature phone model of Java or Brew-based apps was more representative of what AT&T users dealt with. "That's not how our customers expect to experience this environment,"

    Right, and we all downloaded so many apps on our feature phones, that this is unnatural and not what we expect??

    Seems perfectly natural to me, and nothing out of the ordinary. Like everyone said, who expects software purchased for one platform to work on another?




  1. facebook_Gerhard

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Feb 2011

    +2

    Funny

    Right, and I suppose he and others are advocating that a phone purchased on AT&T should by right work on every other carrier in the world just because you bought it. Like that bis ever going to happen. Carriers and their CEO's should get used to being a conduit only and leave the real work of supplying services to consumers to companies that are committed to solutions and services.

  1. Athens

    Addicted to MacNN

    Joined: Jan 2003

    +2

    He has a point

    He has a good point, but suspect intentions. If the same App is on both iOS, Android, Windows Mobile then I agree we shouldn't have to purchase the App multiple times if you switch phones. Java isn't the solution but vender based credits are. If you already own the App on iOS and switch to a Android, from in the App you should be able to click a Transfer option which generates a download credit on the store of which ever platform your switching to.

    This has been a long problem with Mac and Windows. Some games and applications come with one serial number which works on both Mac and Windows. Diablo 2 for example the installer came on either Mac only, Windows only early on or later mixed CD's and one serial number. Steam now lets you get games you buy once on both platforms. Other companies like Microsoft and Adobe charge you for either the Mac or Windows version and expects you to buy again if you change platforms. Law makers should really requre all venders to provide serial numbers with purchase that operates on all platforms the software is availible for and something needs to be figured out for mobile apps too.

  1. Flying Meat

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Jan 2007

    +2

    I kind of see how this

    would or should work by the example provided in iTunes. You can de authorize a machine in order to authorize another machine. Seems like it isn't an entirely undoable concept.

    I do however see a probable need for a modest "cross-grade" fee for the additional development time provided to support another platform (and arguably the licensing engine development time to support a cross-grade system like this).

    When you buy a Windows product, paying off development time is part of that price. That development time does not include other platform development time.

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