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The BBC unveiled its mobile application strategy today at Mobile World Congress today, saying that it will kick things off with three iPhone applications and then ramp up quickly on all mobile platforms.
The news comes as independent developers are already aggregating BBC content into their own Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) apps, some of which are already live in the iTunes store. Most recently, a developer in Manchester called Camiloo has been publicizing an iPlayer app. It told us today that it is still in the approval stage. The BBC meanwhile says it is still investigating these apps.
The first official BBC application for the iPhone will launch in April and will be focused on news and include video. The second application will launch soon after and focus on sports scores and other content. The third app the BBC says it is “considering” would bring BBC’s iPlayer service to more mobile platforms, and provide a week’s worth of BBC content on the go. The iPlayer apps would be available to UK audiences only, while the others will be available worldwide.
It’s still not clear whether the other mobile apps that piggy back on BBC content — but are not created by the BBC — will be allowed to continue to operate alongside the BBC apps. The existing apps are being sold for a fee, whereas the BBC says its apps will be free of charge. Outside the UK, the apps will be supported by advertising.
Erik Huggers, the BBC’s director of future media and technology, said in a keynote that the BBC is starting with the iPhone, but it is their goal to be inclusive of all mobile platforms, including BlackBerry, Symbian, Palm (NSDQ: PALM), Android, etc.
But it’s obvious the complexity is keeping the news organization from launching apps any faster: Huggers: “25 versions of the iPlayer is madness, is it really necessary to have that much of a fragmented market? Can you make it easier for content providers to get services out there?”