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Mobile industry still bickering over apps

All agreed that Apple is not the only fruit

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MWC Comment The GSMA would like you to know that its not just Apple who can sell applications. It's just that no-one can agree how to go about it.

The unofficial slogan in Barcelona this year is "democratising the smart phone", creating an ecosystem that allows poor people to spend money on applications that make farting noises too. Everyone agrees this is the way to make money, but with so many vested interests in play it's not going to happen any time soon.

Today's keynote address, on the subject of Mobile Applications, was a typical example - first the audiences was forced to watch "Subo" - just in case we hadn't realised that YouTube was quite popular these days. Then the GSMA, representing mobile operators, stood up and said that if only all the operators would adopt its One API then applications could be created that interact with operator services and work on multiple operators, which is, apparently, what customers want.

Then Samsung took the stage to explain that Bada is the solution to the problem: once everyone is using a Bada phone (only available from Samsung) they'll be able to download applications from the "Samsung Apps" service (already operating in 50 countries) and subscribe to Samsung services. Almost as though someone has been taking notes from Apple's business plan.

Then Telstra came along and told us it sees itself as a shopping centre, not a shop - hosting other application stores and making money by charging those application stores for prominent placement, identity aggregation and access to the operator's billing system. That all sounds good, assuming that the application stores aren't arrogant enough to believe they can go it alone - building their own relationship with the customers in the way that Apple has, and Samsung intends.

The WAC (Wholesale Applications Community) got mentioned, briefly, but with so few details announced no one was prepared to guess what impact it will have, though everyone seemed to think it was a good idea. In theory.

Everyone wants to expand sales, both on more platforms and to more people, but everyone has a very different ideas about how to achieve that and most of them are so busy expounding their own opinions that usable standards are still a very long way off.

Apples might not be the only fruit, but they are still the best tasting. ®

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