Wholesale Applications Community (WAC), has launched its commercial service. The group, an allegiance of telecommunications firms and others working together to create a common mobile platform, has a goal to simplify the mobile application process for developers, allowing them to deploy mobile apps across all member networks simultaneously. Essentially, it's an effort to build a global mobile app store. And one that supports HTML5.One year after its formation, the operator-led
We're using the term "app store" somewhat loosely here. Unlike consumer-facing app stores like iTunes or the Android Market, WAC apps aren't sold in a single standalone store which end users access on their own. Instead, these are wholesale apps will be launched into the participating operators' own mobile app stores - those are the ones that are typically pre-installed on the devices themselves.
8 Operators on Board at WAC Launch
Today, 8 of WAC's operator members have announced their intention to begin selling the apps based on the WAC standard in their own marketplaces. This launch group includes China Mobile, MTS, Orange, Smart, Telefonica, Telenor, Verizon and Vodafone. Over the course of 2011, WAC will bring 8 more operators on board and will then add more yet again until all of its operator members - a group of over two dozen worldwide - are on board.
At launch, there are already 12,000 apps built using WAC standards. With HP as a WAC member, that means it could easily bump up the number of apps for its new webOS smartphones and tablet, if it chose to add WAC-based applications to its app store.
Can Operators Move Fast?
When WAC launched at last year's Mobile World Congress, there was a lot of skepticism about whether mobile operators could move fast enough to keep up with the pace of innovation on the mobile application front. But by fall of 2010, the group had introduced WAC 1.0, the first version of the standard for creating these HTML-based apps. This initial version only supported HTML4 however, while also providing access to on-device functionality, like access to the accelerometer, camera and address book.
Today, WAC is launching the next version of the standard, WAC 2.0, and with it, support for HTML5. It also offers increased functionality and the ability to access the file system, calendar and device orientation.
WAC 3.0's release is on track for this fall and it will introduce one of the more exciting features for developers yet: access to operator network APIs (application programming interfaces). That means developers will be able to create Web apps that offer in-app billing and user authentication. Soon, other operator APIs like location and messaging will open up, too.
A demo app using WAC 3.0 was created in partnership with Fox TV for the popular TV show "Glee." The app shows off how easy it is for users to sign in and make purchases - in this case, songs from Glee - using their phones.
WAC Wants to Make Apps Simpler to Develop
According to Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T, and another of the WAC operator partners, half of AT&T's customers today are accessing the same content on three or more devices. WAC is beneficial to these types of users because a single app can run on multiple mobile operating systems. This both "improves customer choice and speeds the innovation cycle," he said. It's also beneficial for developers because of its cross-platform nature.
Adobe is now a member of WAC, too, and is interested in bringing the WAC standard to its community of 2.5 million Flash developers.
In addition to the execs from Vodafone, AT&T, Ericsson , Orange, KT, Samsung and Telefonica, mobile device manufacturers including Huawei, LG, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and ZTE were also present to show their support for the standard. For more information, the WAC developers guide and sample code is available from the WAC website here.