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WAC and JIL: Mobile app platforms merge

The Wholesale Applications Community (WAC) on Wednesday completed its formation as a corporate entity and cemented its partnership with the Joint Innovation Lab (JIL). The company also outlined the business models it will pursue, putting it some distance behind competing platforms.

Peters Suh, formerly CEO of the JIL, will take up the same position at the WAC, supported by Michel Combes, Vodafone chief executive Europe as chairman, and Jean-Philippe Vanot, deputy CEO of France Telecom as vice chairman.

The group, which formed in February 2010, comprises 24 operators, accounting for over three billion subscribers and is an alliance designed to build an open platform for delivering applications to all mobile phone users.

Initially, the WAC platform will allow operators to distribute applications through their respective application storefronts and charge users through their existing phone bill. Under this model, developers will set the application price and will receive a revenue share for the transaction, defined on an operator-by-operator basis. WAC is a not-for-profit organisation and will receive a small transaction fee for each application to cover its operating costs.

Only in the future will WAC offer business models that enable additional purchases from within an application; leverage network capabilities, such as location, to enhance an application; and facilitate the serving of ads.

The initial specification and components of its SDK will only be available to developers in November, but will provide backwards compatibility for devices based upon the current JIL and BONDI specifications. Still, that puts the platform well behind market leaders like Apple, which already offers in app purchasing and advertising.

Developers currently creating JIL applications can continue working with the existing JIL specification, tools and software libraries and these applications can be deployed on JIL based devices immediately. With the publication of the WAC specification, developers will have a clear path to deploy applications on a wider range of devices supporting the WAC specification in 2011, the firm said.

Perhaps the WAC drive has something to do with Vodafone’s (one of the platform’s biggest cheerleaders) decision to abandon its Vodafone 360 handset strategy. The operator has stopped selling its 360 branded handsets, so far only available from Samsung, and will instead focus on pushing 360 as a suite of services and applications.

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