AlcaLu Turns Apps Broker
Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) has taken what looks like a logical next step for a company building its professional services and applications development capabilities by becoming the mediator between network operators and the independent applications development community.
The vendor has launched a hosted service called Open API, whereby AlcaLu acts as the broker between carriers that want new applications and the developers that can create them. AlcaLu believes the two camps were struggling to develop productive relationships, even though they were both looking for the same outcome (quicker applications development with revenue gains for all involved parties), so it's rolled out an environment in the U.S. to bring the interested parties together.
The vendor plans to launch in Europe and Asia/Pacific at a later date.
AlcaLu's first carrier partner is Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), which has been actively engaging with a number of partners to reach the developer community for more than a year. (See Sprint Demonstrates 'Open' Leadership With New Programs for the Developer Community.)
It's not known whether any other service providers have signed up yet.
Essentially, AlcaLu aims to provide applications developers with: RESTful application programming interfaces, APIs that conform to the representational state transfer (REST) style of software development commonly used for the Web; access to carrier network data; apps testing capabilities; payment settlement capabilities; and a way to register their applications with network operators on a Web portal.
Initially, the only carrier network data available through the Open API service is location-based information of a generic nature that, in Sprint's words, "protects the privacy and security" of its customers. The carriers provide the data the developers need, knowing that any applications delivered through the Open API initiative are capable of running over their networks, have been pre-tested, and that financial settlements have already been set up and will be mediated through the Open API portal.
Alcatel-Lucent's role, it believes, is to help operators offer more compelling new applications to their customers (driving revenues and loyalty), and to help developers make money from their efforts.
AlcaLu hasn't yet been shouting about the service, which is still in its early days, but more than 40 developers signed on in the first few days after the September launch and appeared to have new applications ready for run over Sprint Nextel's network within days.
The development is part of AlcaLu's greater focus on the convergence of telecom and Internet capabilities initiated by CEO Ben Verwaayen soon after he joined the vendor in 2008. In Verwaayen's words, when the vendor's new approach was unveiled in December last year, AlcaLu is seeking to bring together the "creativity" of the online world with the "trust guarantee" that can be delivered by advanced communications networks. (See AlcaLu's New Vision: More Convergence.)
Another part of the vendor's focus on the applications world is its ng Connect program, launched in February 2009, which aims to build an applications development ecosystem comprising participants from multiple industries. (See AlcaLu Forms an Ecosystem and AlcaLu Adds ng Members.)
Alcatel-Lucent's focus has been on pre-LTE and fixed fiber access applications, with the company working not only on the services that end users will be able to access but also the business models behind them.
An early example of the program's work is the LTE concept car unveiled earlier this month, a development likely to spawn a lot of "crash" jokes down the metaphorical road... (See LTE: Baby, You Can Drive My Car.)
— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading