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Opera, Oracle and Qualcomm join WAC ranks

32 more members dig in against Apple/Google/RIM hegemony

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The Wireless Application Community, operators' last weapon against third-party app stores, has signed up another 32 members, including some familiar names.

Most of the new members are network operators, which shouldn't be a surprise as the WAC is supposed to be operator driven, but it seems that 11 of them were waiting before stumping up the €150,000 annual membership fee. Sponsor members pay the same amount, and will be allowed to run application stores, so look forward to buying applications from Alcatel-Lucent, Fujitsu and LG in the future.

Associate Members only have to hand over €30,000 a year, and there are 12 more of those including Aplix, LiMo, Oberthur, Opera, Oracle and ZTE.

But the big spenders are the board members, who pay €300,000 a year for the privilege of deciding what the WAC is going to do with itself. Six new seats on the board have been created to take money from Accenture, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, Qualcomm and Samsung.

The WAC is intended to be an application warehouse, approving AJAX-based applications which will then be sold by local application stores. Sponsor Members are allowed to run stores, as are operators, while associates get to hang around at meetings and gain early access to the specs.

Those specs are now at version 1, which had taken a while considering they're basically the same specs that were put out by the Joint Innovation Lab (JIL) - the JIL was a similar venture backed by Vodafone and China Mobile that attempted the same thing and got folded into the WAC.

It's encouraging to see operators jumping aboard, they still have great sway with customers and could challenge the third-party application stores such as those run by Samsung for its Bada platform. Samsung's backing of both horses is entirely unsurprising from a company that's prepared to ensure it's on the winning side.

The infrastructure players, such as Huawei and Ericsson, stand to gain through integration with the GSMA's OneApi, which provides integration between handset applications and operator services - including billing and call-handling. The OneAPI has great potential, but it will also require operators to buy new infrastructure from, say, Huawei or Ericsson.

Accenture's decision to get involved is interesting as it could push WAC applications into the enterprise space, where third-party application stores are still untrusted.

Mostly this new membership roster means another €4m rolling into the WAC coffers every year, which should help get the word out that the WAC is serious. Now, if it could just field a device or two... ®

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