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T-Mobile nixes US developer program

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Operators have recently scored some key points in the battle to control the mobile apps experience, but T-Mobile USA is letting the side down, closing down its two-year-old developer program, Partner Network.

Many large carriers are trying to create their own applications platforms and stores, hoping to remain the primary point of contact for users. But T-Mobile has given up the fight and rather than competing for developers' favors, it will now direct them to the individual systems of its handset partners, notably Android Market, BlackBerry App World and Microsoft's Windows Marketplace for Mobile. The news came as a shock, as T-Mobile was originally one of the most active cellcos in trying to create its own store that spanned all its smartphones.

This effort was launched in September 2008, around the same time T-Mobile shipped the first Android phone, and came with a developer support program, a cross-OS platform and a system to allowed apps to be submitted to its network automatically. This was a breakthrough at the time, bringing App Store-like automation to the world of cellco apps, which had usually involved laborious manual processes.

In an email to its developers, T-Mobile USA said: "With the mobile space being an ever changing, dynamic industry our decision to close this program was not taken lightly, but we feel reflects our commitment to support the growing ecosystem of partner storefronts and non-traditional paths to market." The operator will retain its web2go storefront, but this will now be populated via aggregator partners.

The cellco said the Partner Network website would still exist as a developer support resource, but would not accept apps submissions.

Copyright © 2010, Wireless Watch

Wireless Watch is published by Rethink Research, a London-based IT publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter delivers in-depth analysis and market research of mobile and wireless for business. Subscription details are here.

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