How hard is it for a large consortium of tier-one telcos to create a viable and vibrant mobile applications community that is carrier centric? Very hard, as you might suspect.
The Wholesale Applications Community, a large consortium of leading GSM-based mobile service providers from around the world, has decided to sell off it assets and merge the remainder of the effort into a parallel GSM Association effort.
Apigee, a provider of API products and services, has acquired the technology assets of WAC, principally a carrier billing programming interface for in-app purchases.
The mobile payment API allows users to pay for digital and virtual goods using carrier billing, and has been used on mobile networks from AT&T, Deutsche Telekom to Telefónica.
Apigee will continue to develop and evolve the WAC “Web Run Time” and network application programming interfaces (APIs) and will provide these assets as a managed service to the GSMA and its mobile operator members.
WAC was started in 2010 and was backed by 60 operators and suppliers, including Samsung, Intel, Nokia, Ericsson, Qualcomm, Fujitisu, NEC, Hewlett-Packard, HTC, LG and Research in Motion.
The objective was to create a common standard for Web applications that could be used by all GSM service providers, rather than common mobile applications in a direct sense.
As you might guess, the initiative was intended to create more value for mobile service providers in a world where applications were viewed as rapidly consolidating in the ecosystems run by Apple and Google.
You might say the results have been unspectacular, but that might not be surprising to industry watchers who have been saying the odds of success weren’t high to begin with. The global telecom industry has had a rather mixed record of success creating key standards that drive a significant amount of market success.
The industry routinely is required to create standards of all sorts, of course. But the global industry tends not to do so well when those agreements are intended to operate at layer seven of the protocol stack, or, more importantly, as market-driven revenue generators.
WAC appears to be an example of that tendency. Carrier billing APIs for in-app buying of virtual goods is of importance, no doubt. What remains unclear is the immediate value for service providers, since the API must be accompanied by many other business processes, including the building of substantial third party and “owned” applications that can use the APIs.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman