Monday, February 15, 2010

Mobile World Congress: phone makers unite to create unified apps community; Handmark lands UK paper

The Mobile World Congress got underway today in Barcelona with the announcement that 24 mobile operators will unit to create a ‘Wholesale Applications Community’. Those joining the effort to create a wholesale platform for mobile apps includes AT&T, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, Telecom Italia, Sprint, and others. Vodafone, China Mobile, SoftBank and Verizon Wireless, part of the Joint Innovation Lab, will also join in.

The goal is to make it easier for developers to create apps across many product lines and is widely seen as an attempt to compete with Apple's iPhone app store. While this appears to be a wise move it does appear to be an attempt to jump into the game late.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, writing on his ZDNet blog asked "Will it work? Well, consortiums like this usually form when companies feel threatened. Problem is that while companies feel that the consortium looks good on paper, problems develop because each member still wants to have the upper-hand over the competition, and this in-fighting usually weakens, and ultimately neuters, the consortium . . . That said, this is a good thing for users because it will encourage developers to make more apps available across a variety of platforms."
(Quote taken from blog slightly altered to correct grammar.)

Handmark announced they will be launching a mobile app for the London Evening Standard which will feature automatic refreshing of content, and offline browsing. “Our goal is to deliver our readers a quality extension to their reading experience when they don’t have immediate access to the paper or the London Evening Standard website,” said the parper's GM of digital, Tim Smith.

The London Evening Standard is owned by former KGB agent and Russian oligarch Alexander Lebedev who is attempting to buy UK papers the Independent and Independent.

Of course, what would a Mobile World Congress be without lots of new cell phone introductions. But two of the biggest players in the world, Nokia and Apple are missing from the event.  Apple is not there because, well, they are Apple. Nokia has decided to put a half-Apple by holding a simultaneous event in Barcelona.

Meanwhile, Samsung has decided to launch its own mobile platform: Bada. The first phone introduced that will run the Bada OS is the Wave S8500. The new phone won't be coming to the US anytime soon, and the go-it-alone strategy Samsung has chosen makes it unlikely Bada can grow outside of the Samsung cell phones. (In contrast, Apple's iPhone OS, based on OS X, is being used in a modified form for Apple's new iPad. As a result, it is easier to create apps for the iPhone, then modify them for use on the new tablet.)