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MWC 2010: Operators Form WAC Pack for Apps Push

BARCELONA -- Mobile World Congress -- In a bid to regain the ground lost to device makers on app stores, 24 operators have joined forces to create one big open platform for developing and distributing mobile and Internet applications.

The goal of the new alliance, called the Wholesale Applications Community (WAC), is to unite the fragmented app market and simplify the route to market for developers. As a first step, the operators aim to pool their developer communities in order to create one point of contact and to make it easier for new developers to join. (See Telcos' App Problem.)

Operator members include AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), China Mobile Communications Corp. , Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM), Orange France , SoftBank Mobile Corp. , Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF), Verizon Wireless , and Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD).

The new alliance is backed by the GSM Association (GSMA) and also supported by LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) , Samsung Corp. , and Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications .

The alliance will build on the work of Joint Innovation Lab (JIL) -- a mobile widget development program led by China Mobile, Softbank, Vodafone, and Verizon Wireless -- and use the JIL as well as Open Mobile Terminal Platform Ltd. (OMTP) 's BONDI requirements to create a common standard in the next 12 months. It will work with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to create a common standard. (See Vodafone Puts Its Apps in Gear, Mobile Giants Team Up, Verizon Joins Widget Initiative, and Operators Form Bondi.)

Membership in the alliance is not limited to operators and is open to device manufacturers, Internet service providers, and app developers.

"If Apple or anyone else wants to do this, they're more than welcome to join us," said Alex Sinclair, CTO of the GSMA, speaking at the GSMA's press conference today. "This is cross-platform, cross-device... to get applications to as many people as possible."

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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