WAC announces commercial launch

Celebrating its first anniversary at Mobile World Congress, the Wholesale Applications Community (WAC) has announced the commercial launch of the organisation.

At a press conference, WAC CEO Peters Suh was joined by a number of CEOs from the organisation’s 68 member companies as he unveiled WAC-powered storefronts, demonstrated WAC-compliant handsets and web applications, and provided a view of future developments in WAC.

“In the one year since WAC was initially formed at Mobile World Congress 2010, we have achieved a great deal, delivering against our committed timelines and objectives every step of the way,” said Suh.

“Working together in a unified manner as an industry, we are having a positive impact on the mobile application development ecosystem, providing developers with a simplified method of creating applications and content, and delivering them across operator, handset and operating system. With the commercial launch of operator storefronts, handsets and applications, all based on WAC, we can say that WAC is now officially open for business,” he continued.

Major mobile operators from around the world, including China Mobile, MTS, Orange, Smart, Telefónica, Telenor, Verizon and Vodafone have announced here at the show that they are connected to the WAC platform, while the initiative boasts support from mobile phone manufacturers Huawei, LG, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and ZTE.

Of the handset manufacturers, both Samsung and LG will be further driving uptake of WAC by ensuring that all devices produced by the two companies that are capable of supporting the WAC runtime will do so.

WAC also announced that Ericsson has developed and is launching a whitelabel WAC-enabled storefront that can be easily customised to enable operators to quickly and cost effectively launch their own WAC storefronts. Additionally, WAC announced that thousands of web applications are currently available in the WAC-enabled storefronts, including many popular applications and content that end users are downloading today.

The handsets and storefronts launched today are based on the initial WAC 1.0 specification, published in September 2010. WAC also announced the availability of the WAC 2.0 specification, which supports HTML5 web applications with rich multi-media capability, providing developers with an increased set of mobile-specific functionality including file system, calendar and orientation.

WAC 3.0, which will be available in September 2011, will allow key global brands to deliver even more compelling applications, as developers are able to unlock backend network assets including in-app billing and user authentication.

In a statement of future direction, WAC announced that it will enable applications from alternative applications development environments to make similar use of network assets. This approach is consistent with WAC’s goal to reduce fragmentation in the application market and will provide value to applications ecosystems across the mobile industry.

“The demonstration of an application from a major consumer brand, combined with WAC-compliant handsets and WAC-powered storefronts, provides valid proof points to the work undertaken by WAC since its inception,” added Suh. “WAC provides the mobile industry, and more specifically, the mobile application development community, with an effective way to simply and efficiently drive the development and deployment of groundbreaking applications.”

Launched in February 2010, WAC is an open global alliance formed with organisations within the telecoms sector. Uniting a fragmented applications marketplace, WAC will create an open industry platform that benefits the entire ecosystem, including applications developers, handset manufacturers, OS owners, network operators and end users.