The most significant announcement at day one of MWC was the formal debut of a formed alliance between 24 mobile operators and device makers to create a “Wholesale Applications Community,” or a way for the rest of the mobile industry to go head-to-head with the growing power of Apple’s App Store.
The new alliance includes U.S.-based AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel, European operators Deutsche Telekom AG, France Télécom SA, Telefónica SA and Vodafone Group, and Asia’s NTT DoCoMo and China Mobile. In addition to operators from all corners of the world, device makers LG, Samsung and Sony Ericsson have signed on as well.
The alliance is an attempt to collectively target Apple’s dominance in the realm of mobile apps — a segment that for the first time ever, demanded an entire hall at this year’s MWC — and put the combined knowledge and resources of 24 operators and device makers to work in hopes of regaining a lot of lost ground.
Together, the operators in the Wholesale Applications Community have access to over 3 billion customers, and the aim of the new alliance will be to create a simple route to market for application developers, in addition to diminishing the fragmentation that exists when multiple sources begin developing their own mobile app strategies.
Finally, it’s a logical approach from the perspective of wireless carriers who have been left in the dust, so to speak, in terms of capitalizing on the latest mobile trends. The reason Apple’s App Store gains the attraction of the most developers is simply its massive reach. With this alliance, a reach much further than Apple’s is now made possible, the only caveat being the already flourishing ecosystem surrounding the App Store. If the new alliance can recreate the same ecosystem, it will change the face of mobile apps altogether, but that potential is yet to be known.