Exactly a year on from the formation of the Wholesale Applications Community (WAC), today saw eight major operators announce they are now connected to the WAC platform.
China Mobile, MTS, Orange, Smart, Telefonica, Telenor, Verizon and Vodafone are the carriers ready to offer services. “We are looking to add at least another eight operators to the platform this year,” WAC CEO Peters Suh told a press conference at Mobile World Congress.
The early WAC apps are based on the initial WAC 1.0 specification launched last year, while yesterday also saw the launch of the new 2.0 spec, which supports HTML5 web applications with multimedia capability. The initiative promises in-app billing support and user identification in version 3 of the spec, available this coming September.
At a press conference which featured representatives from Vodafone, AT&T, Ericsson (launching a white-label storefront already offered by Telenor), Orange, KT, Samsung and Telefonica, it was COO Julio Linares from the Spanish carrier who was the first to attempt to counter any cynicism from the attending press. “There was a lot of doubt a year ago that so many different companies in the industry could move at speed,” said Linares. “We are all moving at the right speed.”
Other areas of debate at the press conference focused on whether operators with multiple app offerings will begin to merge their stores into a unified WAC service. Vodafone Europe CEO Michel Combes said that its app offerings are now WAC compatible in all its countries, while Telefonica’s Linares noted that the operator has started implementing WAC in its home country of Spain and plans to roll out across all its operations in future.
The representatives were also keen to stress that the 12,000 apps currently available via WAC were focused on both the feature phone and smartphone markets. “We really want to extend apps to feature phones and unlock data usage in that space,” said Vodafone’s Combes.
Meanwhile WAC’s Suh stressed that the initiative has the support of the device community, including Huawei, LG, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and ZTE. In a statement, it was noted that both Samsung and LG “will be further driving uptake of WAC by ensuring that all devices produced by the two companies that are capable of supporting the WAC runtime will do so.”