Two dozen of the world’s largest mobile-phone companies, including Verizon Wireless, AT&T (NYSE: T), NTT DoCoMo (NYSE: DCM), Deutsche Telekom (NYSE: DT), China Mobile and Vodafone (NYSE: VOD), are teaming up to create an “open international applications platform,” which is obviously in direct response to Apple’s success with its own iPhone App Store. Release.
The announcement was made this morning at Mobile World Congress. In addition to the 24 carriers, the GSMA and three device manufacturers — LG (SEO: 066570), Samsung and Sony (NYSE: SNE) Ericsson (NSDQ: ERIC) — are also supporting the initiative. All combined, the group reaches 3 billion subscribers worldwide, making it easily the largest app-store initiative. However, the task will also be exceedingly complicated because of the massive scope and technological barriers in uniting so many disparate platforms and operators.
Called the the “Wholesale Applications Community,” it aims to create a wholesale platform for mobile apps that provides a single point-of-entry for developers. In other words, it wants to solve the massive fragmentation problem. The group intends on using common open standards that will allow developers to create apps across multiple platforms. Those standards include JIL, which Verizon, Vodafone and China Mobile have been working on, and OMTP BONDI. Those two standards are expected to evolve into a common standard within the next year. Ultimately, they pledge to work with the W3C standards bodies to create one solution for developers to create apps and port them across mobile device platforms and operators.
The full list of operators are: America Movil, AT&T, Bharti Airtel, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, KT, mobilkom Austria, MTN Group, NTT Docomo, Orange, Orascom Telecom, Telecom Italia, Telefonica (NYSE: TEF), Telenor, TeliaSonera, SingTel, SK Telecom (NYSE: SKM), Sprint (NYSE: S), VimpelCom and WIND. The four operators in the Joint Innovation Lab (JIL) mobile apps initiative