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Talking Smack on the WAC

4:00 AM -- Count Openwave Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: OPWV)'s Dan Nguyen among those skeptical of the wireless operators' Mobile Widget initiative, the Wholesale Applications Community (WAC) . (See OpenWave Amps Up Browser Apps.)

For that matter, count me in that group as well.

The subject came up when Nguyen, director of product management and strategy at Openwave, and I were discussing Amplicity, the company's new browser-based mobile apps platform.

"These industry groups play an important role," Nguyen concedes, "but where they don’t do well is innovation and creating new market opportunities that are based on innovation."

Of course, driving innovation is why the WAC was founded, but carriers don't have a reputation for moving fast, especially when a large number of them must reach a consensus. Nguyen says that maybe they will accomplish a feat like coming up with the next SMS-like service over Long Term Evolution (LTE), but they can't expect Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)-esque mobile app success. (See Apple Breaks 10B Apps Threshold.)

"They have to work together by nature of SMS, but when it comes to new app marketplaces, having a committee of dozens of operators deciding on standards and ratifying them, that's a multiple-year process," Nguyen says. "That's a cycle that doesn't work."

Nguyen says this is something Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) has realized, hence the reason they're working with Openwave in addition to the WAC. (See Sprint Tackles Browser-Based Apps and Ops Still Finding Their Way With Apps.)

Most of the developers I've spoken with also seem to be skeptical of WAC. That is, if they've even heard of it. Ted Shelton, CEO of mobile consultancy Open-First, made a good point that developers will build for the WAC so long as it's painless and doesn't require much more work. Or, if there is some specific benefit from it, they will prioritize it. Otherwise, they'll likely devote their time and resources to proven platforms. (See Operators Need Developers for Apps Ambitions .)

The carriers do have their APIs and the ability to go cross-platform working to their advantage; they just also have the enormous task of proving to developers and naysayers that they can keep up with the breakneck speed of innovation in mobile apps. (See WAC Beefs Up Its App Pack and Operators Have a WAC at Apps .)

Light Reading Mobile will be attending the WAC's press conference at Mobile World Congress, so check back to hear about the group's progress, or lack thereof, whichever the case may be.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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