Wholesale Apps Community: laudable but difficult to execute

POSTED BY Global Administrator
The 24-operator announcement of the 'Wholesale Applications Community' to allow mobile Internet and applications to be downloaded without the potential headache of conflicting technologies, announced at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last week, might allow operators access to 3 billion consumers as the initiative's website claims, but it could also be a very difficult one to pull off.

Any web designer knows that even creating a design that works across all browsers creates headaches. Designing code for apps that works across multiple mobile operating systems is bound to present even greater problems. Indeed, the iPhone/ App store combination has worked so well partly because app developers can fine-tune their apps for the iPhone, without having to create more code to make it work under different circumstances, which can hinder apps' performance.

The idea of a a common app standard across mobile device platforms is laudable but a long way off. Though, with Android and Symbian, there are moves towards open-source operating systems for the mobile OS, elements will remain proprietary for some time. And because of how the mobile industry has developed, operators are not in charge of the mobile OS in any case.

Of course, the operators behind the Wholesale Applications Community will work with the GSM Association, LG Electronics, Samsung and Sony Ericsson to allow developers to build and deliver apps according to a common standard, but some important names are missing.

What about Nokia, or dare we say it, Apple? Buy-in from handset vendors that already have their own successful app stores is surely crucial for this to become a worldwide success.

Ultimately this operators' rear guard action demonstrates some important things about the content market. The most significant of these is that, as far as content is concerned, its not really the operators that are in charge at all.