The Wholesale Application Community (WAC) kicked off commercial operations Monday with eight operators, 12,000 apps and a software upgrade.
China Mobile, MTS, Orange, Smart Communications, Telefonica, Telenor, Verizon and Vodafone are now connected to the WAC platform, covering an addressable base of 1.6 billion mobile users, said WAC chief executive Peter Suh.
And another eight operators are due to connect to the platform this year, Suh added.
Vodafone Europe chief Michel Combes said the WAC launch applied to all of the markets in which Vodafone operates.
“Just as mobile number portability has been beneficial to customers and driven competition between operators, we need to have ecosystem portability,” Combes told journalists at the Mobile World Congress. “Why should I have to think about whether the device in my hands can make or receive a video call, or supports Angry Birds?”
South Korean incumbent KT announced support for the WAC platform on its storefront at the press conference. “In Korea, we are working together to ensure that operators and OEMs are working together on this,” Hyun-Myung Pyo, President of KT’s Mobile Business Group noted.
Korea-based handset makers LG Electronics and Samsung – also WAC members – said all new devices from either company that are capable of supporting WAC will do so.
Huawei, Sony Ericsson and ZTE are the only other handset makers onboard with WAC, which has 68 members in total.
The WAC group started with 24 members when it was first announced at last year’s MWC event.
WAC has created an SDK that allows developers to create OS-agnostic apps, a wholesale platform for retail app stores and provides developers access to any storefront on the platform. WAC serves as a middleman for operators to pay developers, taking a small cut of each transaction to cover the cost of running the platform and providing testing services.
WAC also laid out its roadmap for evolving the platform starting with WAC 2.0, which was also released Monday.
Suh said WAC 2.0 targets runtime environments and browsers via support for HTML5, and adds more functionality and better security.
WAC 3.0, due out in September this year, will extend WAC 2.0 to cover network APIs and support for features including user authentication and billing.
Meanwhile, Ericsson launched its eStore solution Monday, a cloud-based white-label storefront solution for operators that supports full WAC integration, with Telenor slated to pilot a launch in Serbia using the solution.