Three Billion Customers and Counting

How would you like access to three billion customers? That’s the promise of the newly announced Wholesale Applications Community formed by telcom operators including América Móvil, AT&T, Bharti Airtel, China Mobile, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, KT, Mobilkom Austria Group, MTN Group, NTT DoCoMo, Orange, Orascom Telecom, Softbank Mobile, Telecom Italia, Telefónica, Telenor Group, Telia Sonera, SingTel, SK Telecom, Sprint, Verizon Wireless, VimpelCom, Vodafone and Wind, as well as Samsung, LG and Sony Ericsson device manufacturer.

The group’s stated intention is to “create a wholesale applications community that will establish a simple route to market for developers, in turn, providing access to the latest and widest range of innovative applications and services to as many customers as possible worldwide.” That certainly sounds good but the more likely goal is to head off Apple’s app store juggernaut. Nothing like a little competition to keep everyone on their toes.

Look deeper, though, and it appears the group has done little beyond signing a memorandum of understanding that “…will establish a simple route to market for developers and provide access to the latest and widest range of innovative applications and services to as many customers as possible worldwide.” The real question, then, is how likely is it for these “…ICT industry operators, developers, handset manufacturers and internet players” to join forces and create “…an initiative based on openness and transparency?” Geopolitically and technically it sounds pretty remote in the near term and fractious, to put it lightly, in the longer term. What do you think?

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