Mobile Operators unite over yet another united app platform

The bigwigs of the mobile world have come together in their infinite wisdom at Mobile World Congress (MWC) Barcelona and decided to create an ‘open international applications platform’ to add to the plethora of platforms already out there, in the hope of creating a super huge and more or less unified platform for the mobile apps space.

Sexily dubbed the Wholesale Applications Community, it seems like just about anyone who’s anyone in the mobile mob is in on the initiative, including the likes of America Movil, AT&T, Bharti Airtel, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, KT, mobilkom Austria, MTN Group, NTT Docomo, Orange, Orascom Telecom, Telecom Italia, Telefonica, Telenor, TeliaSonera, SingTel, SK Telecom, Sprint, VimpelCom and WIND. So  this should cover some three billion mobile customers worldwide.

But of the 24 carriers involved, four in particular – Vodafone, China Mobile, SoftBank and Verizon Wireless – are pulling a bit more of the weight by being part of the Joint Innovation Lab (JIL) mobile apps initiative.

Rather unsurprisingly, the GSMA has said it is backing the move. Shock!

So, what exactly is this wholesale app platform and what good is it? Well, according to the press releases and excited PR chatter, it’s all about creating a “single point-of-entry for developers.”

And yes, it’s giving the finger to Apple and its closed app platform.

So it should come as no surprise that the have-nots of the app-store world, including LG, Samsung and Sony Ericsson, are delirious with excitement over the announcement.

As usual, there’s much talk about “common open standards” and apps that will work across “multiple platforms,” which is what Android essentially set out to do quite a while ago. And what Intel and Nokia think they might start doing now too. So much for overcoming market fragmentation, eh?

Apparently, the unified app alliance [shurely, the alliance app unified front? – Ed] will use both JIL and OMTP BONDI requirements, and have lots of meetings and heated discussions about evolving those standards into a common standard within the next year.

Good luck with that.