Verizon joins web technology lab

US carrier Verizon Wireless has joined forces with mobile giants Vodafone and China Mobile, and Japanese operator Softbank ) to promote the development of new mobile internet technologies, applications and services.

By joining the Joint Innovation Lab (JIL), Verizon has boosted the project to a combined customer reach of approximately one billion consumers.

The four companies will use the JIL as a platform to develop mobile services to benefit of their combined global customer base, with a particular focus on emerging technologies such as widgets. Vodafone has an existing interest in China Mobile, in which it holds a 3.3 per cent stake, as well as Softbank, which acquired Vodafone’s ailing Japanese unit in 2006.

Initially, the JIL plans to develop a platform for mobile widgets to encourage the development of new services that can leverage the unique capabilities of mobile operators. Following something of a trend, this move will enable different widgets and applications to run seamlessly on different handset platforms and operating systems across different mobile operators, while safeguarding customer security, data privacy and billing systems.

Later this year, the JIL plans to launch a range of tools including a common mobile widgets specification, developer kits, an online repository, and distribution and payment mechanisms to ensure developers can roll out their products to customers in more than 70 countries across North America, Asia, Europe and Africa.

The organisation said mobile widgets are capable of boosting handset functionality as well as transforming the look and feel of a device to give customers quick and easy access to content. They are personalised, always accessible mini applications that sit on a handset to retrieve relevant information from the web such as weather reports, sports updates, and travel timetables.

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