The Wholesale Applications Community took another tentative step toward reality with the announcement of an actual business model and the appointment of a leadership team. However, it remains unclear whether the WAC effort--a ploy by the world's top wireless carriers to insert themselves into the app store game--will be able to rise above the app noise created by the likes of BlackBerry, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Android.
"These companies are very welcome to join" the WAC, said WAC's Tim Raby, who noted that some existing app store providers have expressed interest in joining with the WAC effort, but none has yet confirmed their membership. "We're very keen to engage with all of those companies."
Representatives from Apple, Android provider Google and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) did not immediately respond to questions on the topic.
The WAC today provided details on exactly how operators plan to make money from the sale of applications to users' cell phones and smartphones. The group said WAC will allow operators to distribute applications through their respective application storefronts and charge users for the digital goodies via subscribers' existing phone bill. Developers will be able to set the application price, and will receive a revenue share for the transaction--the revenue share will be defined on an operator-by-operator basis.
"This will ensure that revenue shares will be competitive in today's application market," the group said.
Additional--and increasingly important--business tactics such as in-app charges and advertising schemes will be added at some point in the future.
Additionally, the WAC also announced it will join forces with the Joint Innovation Lab, a joint venture among China Mobile, Softbank, Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) and Vodafone to create applications that can work across various carriers' networks. JIL's chief, Peters Suh, will be the WAC's CEO.
Finally, the WAC announced its senior leadership team and board of directors. The teams are packed with heavy hitters from the world's wireless carriers--likely a signal by the operator community of their seriousness. Among the highlights: Michel Combes (Vodafone Chief Executive Europe) will be chairman of the WAC, and Jean-Philippe Vanot (Deputy CEO, France Telecom) will be vice chairman. The group's board of directors includes names like John Donovan, CTO, AT&T; Li Zhengmao, VP, China Mobile; Olivier Baujard, CTO, Deutsche Telekom; Kiyohito Nagata, SVP, NTT DoCoMo; Morten-Karlsen Sorby, EVP and Head of Corporate Development, Telenor; and Dick Lynch, EVP and CTO, Verizon.
Announced during February's Mobile World Congress trade show, the WAC hopes to be formally up and running by next year's MWC. Major U.S. operators AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T), Sprint Nextel (NASDAQ: S), Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA (and a host of international carriers) are listed as WAC members, as are Samsung, Sony Ericsson and LG--though none of the major platform providers like Research In Motion or Google is yet participating.
WAC will publish its initial specification and components of its SDK to developers in November. The group said the specifications will be based on W3C standards for widgets. WAC will also provide backwards compatibility for devices based upon the current JIL and BONDI specifications. The group said developers currently creating JIL applications can continue working with the existing JIL specification, tools and software libraries and these applications can be deployed on JIL based devices immediately.
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