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Category Archives: Providers

iPhone OS 4.0 beta 4 hints at AT&T data tethering

The release of Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) new iPhone OS 4.0 beta 4 indicates the next version of the smartphone will likely offer U.S. consumers data tethering, a feature long desired by AT&T (NYSE:T) subscribers. iPhone tethering–enabling consumers to…

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Google outlines Flash, tethering and other advances in Android 2.2

SAN FRANCISCO–Google unveiled the latest version of its Android platform for smartphones–2.2, dubbed Froyo–and detailed a range of advancements on the platform now open to developers.
In outlining the advancements in Android 2.2, Google’s Vic Gundot…

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AT&T launches enterprise apps initiative

AT&T (NYSE:T) announced the launch of Advanced Enterprise Mobility Solutions, a new group within its Business Solutions created to accelerate the delivery of mobile applications and services targeting companies, government bodies and organizations …

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WAC pledges to be ‘open for business’ by next year

The Wholesale Applications Community, a global group of wireless industry players headed by the world’s biggest operators, said its application value chain will be up and running in time for next year’s Mobile World Congress trade show in February. The ultimate goal of the group is to ensure wireless operators get a cut of the revenues generated by the sale of applications to mobile users.

Wholesale applications community timelineThough the WAC did provide a rough timeline of its planned activities for the next few months, the group didn’t provide much else in the way of specifics. Major outstanding questions include:

  • Whether applications submitted through the group will be available via application storefronts like Apple’s App Store or Google’s Android Marketplace.
  • What percent of application revenues will be allocated to developers.
  • And whether major platform vendors like Research In Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM), Google, Nokia (NYSE: NOK) and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) will participate in the effort.

Nonetheless, WAC proponents continue to promise the push will result in success: “It’s going to create a lot more choice for a lot more people,” including consumers and developers, proclaimed Tim Raby, the WAC’s acting CEO and managing director of the Open Mobile Terminal Platform (which is working in concert with WAC).

As for the timeline, in July the group plans to form a not-for-profit company to oversee WAC operations and, more importantly, it will provide business model details including the revenue share for developers and app store owners. In September the group will publish materials and documentation for developers, in November it will hold its first developer event, and in February of 2011 it will “open for business at Mobile World Congress.”

Major U.S. operators AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T), Sprint Nextel (NASDAQ: S), Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) and T-Mobile USA are listed as WAC members, as are Samsung, Sony Ericsson and LG–though none of the major platform providers like RIM or Google is yet participating. WAC executives said announcements about additional members could be made in July.  

WAC’s Raby explained that the group hopes to provide a single entrance for applications that can work across the networks of the group’s two dozen participating operators.

For more:
– see the WAC timeline
– see this GigaOM article

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Operators unite to streamline app development
The yawn that was Mobile World Congress 2010
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Verizon Wireless opens binary submissions for V Cast Apps

Verizon Wireless announced it is now accepting binary submissions for its forthcoming V Cast Apps mobile software storefront. According to an email sent out last week to Verizon Developer Community members, programmers who’ve successfully submitted concepts to V Cast Apps can now upload binary files as well as provide additional information including Icons, Application Descriptors, Pricing, Export Compliance and Version Information. Upon accepting a binary submission, V Cast Apps will notify developers of certification results via email. Verizon Wireless adds it has updated its VDC forums with new links to app submission resources.

During the recent Consumer Electronics Show event in Las Vegas, Verizon Wireless said it is “on the cusp” of launching V Cast Apps, originally slated to go live in late 2009. Verizon Wireless director of business development Todd Murphy did not offer a specific launch date, but said the storefront would initially be available across five of the operator’s BlackBerry smartphones: The Storm 1 and 2, the Curve 1 and 2, and the BlackBerry Tour. “We’re just waiting for that inflection point” of enough quality applications, Murphy said, adding “We believe that when we put this out into the marketplace, it will have a significant impact.” Murphy said Verizon Wireless currently counts about 3,500 developers registered in the VDC program.

For more on V Cast Apps’ progress:
– check out the Verizon Developer Community website

Related articles:
Developer Community membership soars in first month
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AT&T to developers: We will reduce fragmentation

LAS VEGAS–AT&T Mobility President and CEO Ralph de la Vega used the company’s annual mobile developer event here to announce the company’s four-pronged approach to strengthening its wireless business. The conference, held at the Palms Casino and Resort the day prior to the opening of the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show, attracted more than 1,000 mobile developers–nearly three times the number that the event attracted in the past.

Specifically, de la Vega said AT&T wants to help developers by reducing all the fragmentation that makes mobile app development so expensive and difficult. De la Vega said AT&T will strengthen its smartphone portfolio by supporting all the various mobile operating systems. He said the carrier would help developers sell more apps by supporting all the major OEM app stores, and by offering apps to consumers who own mid-level wireless devices (not smartphones). Finally, de la Vega said the firm will strengthen its app developer program and continue to invest in its network.

AT&T plans to launch five exclusive smartphones that support Google’s Android operating system (see related story here) from Dell, Motorola and HTC, and it also will launch two devices running Palm’s webOS operating system. Those webOS devices will be exclusive to AT&T and will be announced later this year.

Regarding app stores, de la Vega said the company will support all app stores from the major OEMs, and will provide technical support for those app stores. In addition, AT&T customers who buy apps from Nokia’s Ovi storefront will be billed directly through AT&T.

But perhaps the most surprising news from AT&T was that it will use Qualcomm’s BREW MP platform to allow consumers with mid-level messaging devices to buy applications. “We want to make apps available to a bigger segment of the market,” de la Vega said. He added that by 2011, AT&T expects 90 percent of new AT&T messaging devices to sport the BREW MP platform.

A new AT&T SDK is available for the BREW platform. And BREW MP will be backward compatible, making it easier for existing BREW developers to transition to BREW MP.

AT&T currently supports Java applications for feature phones.

According to David Christopher, the chief marketing officer of AT&T Mobility, the company also is developing a new storefront strategy, call the App Center, which will focus on discoverability and offer direct-carrier billing. Specifically, AT&T is offering a 70/30 revenue share for all new contracts.

For more:
– see this release
– see this Ovi release

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Rumor Mill: Is Motorola making AT&T’s first Android phone?
Rumor Mill: AT&T prepping Android assault
AT&T declines Moto’s Android advances?
Report: AT&T may launch Dell Android phone in 2010

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Sprint expands open location platform

Sprint announced it will expand its open location platform by adding TechnoCom Corporation to its open service enabler program, promising developers more avenues to create location-based solutions optimized for Sprint devices. TechnoCom is a location-based aggregator that provides customization and integration support services enabling call centers to offer location-enhanced services to customers and handle calls more efficiently. According to Sprint, applications could include solutions identifying a company’s nearby stores or office locations and location-based routing to the most appropriate call center or agent.

Sprint launched the open service enabler program in late 2008 with Veriplace and WHERE–last summer, the operator added Alcatel-Lucent, Loc-Aid and Useful Networks. The open service platforms guard the privacy and security of Sprint subscribers while offering third-party mobile, web, WAP, SMS and widget developers a more consistent method to build applications that incorporate customers’ location information to deliver customized information and services.

In related Sprint news, the carrier said its Developer Sandbox program now includes both iDEN and CDMA capabilities, meaning programmers can now create and test applications for the Nextel and Boost Mobile brands. Sprint Developer Sandbox, launched in mid-2009, features tools to enable more efficient creation of location-based services, messaging apps and related solutions–the initiative is open to all Sprint registered developers, and provides access to network, handset and product capabilities.

For more on Sprint’s latest developer efforts:
– read this release

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Palm unwraps developer program, but some remain unimpressed

LAS VEGAS–Palm took the wraps off its developer program, and announced several new developer initiatives aimed at generating interest in the company’s webOS platform. However, at least one major mobile services company–VoIP calling company Skype–plans to wait on the sidelines until Palm’s offerings to catch fire with consumers.

Palm's Katie MiticDuring a wide-ranging press conference here on the sidelines of the Consumer Electronics Show here, Palm said its webOS developer program is now “open for business.” Previously the company had only been working directly with a select group of developers. Palm also announced a new distribution deal with wireless heavyweight Verizon Wireless, as well as upgraded versions of its Pre and Pixi devices. (See related story here.)

“We look forward to working with you (developers),” said Katie Mitic, Palm’s senior vice president of products, in announcing the company’s developer efforts. She said Palm’s App Catalog currently holds around 1,000 apps (whereas market leader Apple counts fully 100,000 apps in its own digital storefront) but Mitic said Palm “expects that to grow even more, and faster.”

Palm’s developer program splits app revenues 70/30 (developer/Palm), after applicable taxes. The membership-based program has a $99 annual fee, which the company said will be waived for developers who opt to distribute open source Palm webOS apps on the Web.

During the company’s press conference, Mitic highlighted a number of Palm efforts aimed at exciting developers to its smartphone platform. Specifically, she detailed Palm’s new $1 million Hot Apps bonus program, which will run Feb. 1 through May 31. The program will award $1 million to the most successful applications distributed during this timeframe. The developers of the top free and paid applications each will earn a $100,000 bonus; in addition, 40 developers will receive $10,000 (20 each for free and paid), with 400 developers awarded $1,000 (200 each for free and paid).

Separately, Mitic hyped the company’s webOS Plug-in Development Kit, which she said enables new functionality such as 3D games. Indeed, EA Mobile showed off 3D versions of its “Sims 3” and “Need For Speed” games running on the Pre.

Finally, Mitic said Palm will open up its database of webOS applications data, thereby allowing third parties to access app descriptions, ratings, stats and screen shots. The goal, Mitic said, was to allow app developers the freedom to promote and distribute their apps as they see fit.

“We give developers freedom and choice with how they take their applications to market,” she said, a possible knock at iPhone maker Apple, which has come under fire for its tight control over its iTunes App Store. “We’re taking a completely new approach to application distribution. … That’s better for everyone.”

Despite Palm’s efforts to tout its webOS platform–which is first announced a year ago at the 2009 CES show here–a few major players in the industry remain unmoved. Christopher Dean, chief strategy officer for Skype, said webOS is the only major smartphone platform that Skype does not yet plan to support. Dean said webOS does not have enough momentum behind it to make it worthwhile for Skype to invest in the platform.

For more:
– see Palm’s announcement

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Upgraded Palm Pre, Pixi headed to Verizon this month
Report: Verizon launching Palm Pre, Pixi at CES
Top Palm investor dismisses takeover talk

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Verizon Wireless promises imminent launch of app store

LAS VEGAS–Verizon Wireless is “on the cusp” of launching its own branded app store–an action that essentially stands as an answer to the wildly successful Apple App Store for the iPhone (currently only available through Verizon rival AT&T Mobility). Verizon’s Todd Murphy, director of business development, did not offer a specific launch date, but said the carrier’s VCast Application Store would initially be provided to five of the carrier’s BlackBerry smartphones: the Storm 1 and 2, the Curve 1 and 2, and the BlackBerry Tour.

Verizon first announced its application store intentions in July, and at the time promised to launch it by the fourth quarter of last year. However, Verizon’s Murphy indicated the carrier needed to delay the launch to ensure that the store contained enough applications to make it worthwhile.

“We’re just waiting for that inflection point” of enough quality applications, Murphy said during a Verizon developer event here on the sidelines of the Consumer Electronics Show. Added Murphy: “We believe that when we put this out into the marketplace, it will have a significant impact.”

Murphy said the carrier currently counts 3,500 developers registered into its program, and “thousands” of application “concepts” for its store.

Further, Murphy promised the application storefront would initially be available for BlackBerry devices, and would launch on Windows Mobile devices in the “middle of the year.” Murphy declined to provide a launch window for Verizon’s VCast Application Store for Android phones, but did note the app store is heading to Verizon Android phones.

Interestingly, and perhaps unintentionally, Murphy offered a jab at Apple and its trailblazing app store by noting that Verizon’s storefront effort would focus on “quality, not quantity.” Apple’s App Store recently passed the 100,000-app mark, a number that dwarfs app store efforts by the likes of Android and BlackBerry.

Related articles:
Verizon Wireless to launch VCast Application Store in Q4
Verizon Wireless introducing VCast Apps store in Q4
Verizon: No registration or testing fees for new app store

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Sprint says Android 2.0 coming to Hero and Moment this spring

While Google’s updated Android 2.0 operating system officially reached the consumer market in early November in conjunction with Verizon Wireless’ commercial launch of the Motorola-produced Droid smartphone, Sprint announced the revamped OS will not expand to its Hero and Moment devices until as late as mid-2010. “Happy to announce Android 2.0 is coming to Sprint’s Hero & Moment,” reads a Dec. 11 post on the operator’s official Twitter feed. “Date TBD, but roughly 1H 2010.”

According to IDG News Service, the delay underscores the potential fragmentation challenges facing the open Android platform as it spreads across more operators and manufacturers. With various smartphones running Android 1.5, 1.6 and 2.0, there exists the possibility that not all Android applications will function properly across all addressable handsets, a situation that could discourage developers from creating software for the platform. “That type of confusion doesn’t give developers a warm and fuzzy feeling,” said Interpret analyst Michael Gartenberg.

For more on Sprint’s Android 2.0 holding pattern:
– read this IDG News Service article

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