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Operators launch anti-Google WAC

But no killer API 'til September

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MWC 2011 The operator-backed Wholesale Application Store has launched commercially, with eight operators and 12,000 apps, but developers will have to wait for the APIs that make the platform unique.

From today customers can buy basic Ajax applications from the eight operators that have launched them, namely: Vodafone, AT&T, SMART, Verizon, Telenor, MTS, Orange and China Mobile.

However, applications won't be able to pick up dates from the calendar and contacts, or local files, until WAC 2.0 – announced today with the hope of going commercial in May. For in-application billing, developers will have to wait until WAC 3.0, which won't even be made public until September. So for the moment, the WAC only offers basic applications to customers of the eight operators, who can now buy basic WAC applications for download onto Android handsets.

Which isn't the point, of course. WAC apps are supposed to run across platforms thanks to their AJAX base. That will come, as will more operators, but most importantly will come the APIs that enable WAC applications to do things that can't be done on any other platform.

Chief among these is in-application billing, integrated with the operator's payment systems – including pre-paid. Even more impressive, if a bit scary, is the ability to pick up the user's details from the network operator – such as the home address for automated form filling. We're promised that suitable security will be in place and we look forward to examining how that's going to work.

But those features don't come until WAC 3.0, to be published in September, which is a shame when that's the capability the competition doesn't have.

The WAC would like to remind us (and did, several times) that launching a cross-operator service within 12 months is a remarkable achievement, which is true, for the usually glacial network operators that's amazingly fast, but it still might not be fast enough to stop Google, and Apple, running the world. ®

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