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The Mobile Lowdown 05-04-11: Nokia; Android Tether; American Airlines

Our look at some of the stories in mobile today: Nokia (NYSE: NOK) launches an SDK for one of its other operating system projects, Qt; Google (NSDQ: GOOG) blocking tethering apps on Android?; American Airlines the latest to move into content streaming services; mobile web startup Wapple picks up funding and a new CEO.

Nokia: One more move that indicates the Finnish handset maker is keen to show that it’s not all about Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) these days — perhaps smart, considering that Microsoft seems to be happy to rub elbows with plenty of Nokia’s competitors, such as RIM.

Today Nokia launched a new SDK for Qt (‘cute’), its cross-platform application and UI framework, which works not only with Symbian and Windows, but Linux and Mac. The SDK, numbered version 1.1, seems at this point mainly geared to publishing apps on the Ovi app store for Symbian (and eventually for the MeeGo device in the works); the support for other platforms is mainly about importing apps development work from those environments into Nokia’s Symbian OS, or for exporting apps developed for Symbian into those other platforms.

A blog post from Nokia on the SDK news also notes that Stephen Elop paid a visit to the Qt team and reiterated that the changes underway at the company, at the moment, are not translating into reduced investment for Qt.

Android tethering: A series of reports (three are here, here and here) are emerging that claim mobile operators in the U.S. are leaning on Google to disable tethering apps that are in the Android Market.

Tethering apps, like Wireless Tether, which let users connect other devices to their mobile phones to share Internet connections, hotspot style, are potentially onerous to carriers, since carriers usually charge their subscribers extra for such features. We have contacted one carrier, Verizon, to see whether it can confirm whether this is really the case, or to otherwise clarify the situation, and will update this when we get a response.

American Airlines: It’s not only internet and consumer electronics behemoths like Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) and Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) weighing up the merits of cloud-based media streaming services. American Airlines has started to test its own in-flight video-rental service, which users can purchase and stream via their own WiFi-enabled devices.

The service will presumably come with a charge (perhaps AA will waive it for business or first class, although details have yet to be announced), on top of the one that AA already hands to passengers who use the airline’s in-flight WiFi service. Initially, the movie service will only be available on AA’s domestic fleet.

Wapple: Another mobile web developer picking up VC funding. Wapple is a UK-based startup that offers developers platforms (branded Canvas, Architect and Exhibit) to develop content for mobile web portals (hence the “wap” of its name); and also offers bespoke services for application development for various OS platforms. The company says it has around 25,000 clients, but has not disclosed its turnover, the names of its backers, or indeed how much money it has just raised — except to note that the funding comes from existing and new shareholders.

At the same time, the company has also announced a new CEO, Simon Lavers, who has in the past worked for IDG and founded and sold digital services company Activ Australia. Wapple was founded by Rich Holdsworth and Anne Thomas, who are still active at the company as CTO and COO, respectively. John Leftwich, meanwhile, remains as chairman.

The company will use the new round to continue its expansion in Europe and the U.S.

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