Feeds

Vodafone opens gates to barbarians

App-wielding hordes get global access, billing system

Seven Steps to Software Security

Vodafone is set to announce a standard set of APIs, allowing third parties to create applications integrated with Vodafone servers around the world, including tapping the operator's billing system for micropayments.

In an announcement billed as (yet again) "redefining the mobile internet," Vodafone is unveiling a set of standard APIs that will work in every region in which the operator has a presence. This will allow developers to create applications and roll them out around the world, as long as they don't mind their market being limited to Vodafone's 289 million customers.

Operators have long allowed third parties access to internal services, particularly SMSC's for messaging and often with access to billing systems, too. But this has generally been on a case-by-case basis and only sharing limited functionality. Not only does that require developers to work with each operator in turn, but platforms are often fragmented even within the same operator - particularly where international expansion has been managed through acquisition - so developers often have to negotiate, and code, for every operator, in every region.

Not that today's announcement is the first attempt to address this problem: Vodafone makes much of the new API's ability to bill for small transactions, allowing developers to include the "insert coin to continue" functionality they've been hoping for. But Vodafone is also part of the "PayForIt" consortium, which provides the same functionality across multiple networks. PayForIt operates though gateways that take a cut of the money, so developers will have to decide on the value of being cross-network.

It's also worth noting that these new APIs are coming out of the Joint Innovation Lab (JIL), so should be applicable to the other JIL members in time - adding Verizon and China Mobile would put the JIL in charge of applications provided to more than 700 million mobile-phone users.

Obviously applications will need to be certified to have access to the APIs, something the JIL was already planning along with on-device APIs to allow (suitably signed) widgets with access to local, and network, resources - all of which should be revealed over the summer.

If this all sounds a bit familiar then it should - it's just what was promised, and in some ways delivered, by Qualcomm's BREW platform. Customers have rebelled against the level of control exercised by BREW operators, and Qualcomm has failed to expand the idea much beyond the USA. The JIL might prove a more benign controlling authority, but it will remain in charge of what you can do with your mobile phone. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
GoTenna: How does this 'magic' work?
An ideal product if you believe the Earth is flat
Telstra to KILL 2G network by end of 2016
GSM now stands for Grave-Seeking-Mobile network
Seeking LTE expert to insert small cells into BT customers' places
Is this the first step to a FON-a-like 4G network?
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
BlackBerry: Toss the server, mate... BES is in the CLOUD now
BlackBerry Enterprise Services takes aim at SMEs - but there's a catch
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.