Telefónica announces WAC-compliant multi-platform app play

International carrier Telefónica has announced a multi-platform application play that it says will allow customers to access their applications across a wide range of handsets as well as tablets, PCs and televisions. The project, dubbed ‘Frigo’ until commercial launch when regional names will be announced, will go live in seven Telefónica territories before August, said Tanya Field, director of the carrier’s Mobile Data Group. Frigo makes use of recommendation software from Qualcomm subsidiary Xiam technologies.

Field said that Telefónica hopes that some of the seven markets – Spain, UK, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina, will see services go live in the second quarter of this year. She added that the project was conceived as a loyalty and retention tool, with customers’ applications being stored in the cloud, and made available to them across the range of platforms, so that moving to a handset with a different operating system would not result in the customer losing their apps.

Telefónica is working with developers to “manage the process” of porting applications from one platform to another although Field said that, in some cases, users will be offered closest matches from alternative portfolios if they swap platforms. Android, Windows Mobile, Java and Symbian are all covered by Frigo, although Apple is, unsurprisingly, not participating. Apple, after all, seeks to own the end user’s application consumption completely and has no desire to make the move to another platform convenient.

In a neat interface trick, the new service allows users to recommend apps to people whose details are stored in their handset’s contacts database. This is a move that reflects the increasing belief that personal recommendations from trusted sources are far more reliable stimulants of content discovery and app sales. Colm Healy, VP and general manager of Xiam, claimed that users are four times more likely to find content using its discovery solutions than through more traditional techniques.

Telefónica said that Frigo is “fully integrated with the aims of the Wholesale Applications Community”, meaning the firm may be positioned as a standard bearer for the GSMA WAC project, which aims to boost the importance of carriers in the app store battle that has seen platform developers like Apple and Google build significant momentum.

Frigo has some similarities to Appitalism, a hybrid app store and social network launched recently by mobile content firm Mobile Streams.

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