At last year's Mobile World Congress, a number of operators, including Vodafone, China Mobile and Verizon Wireless, formed the Wholesale Applications Community with the goal of allowing people to use one platform to develop and distribute web-based mobile applications that can run on a multitude of phones.
That vision is now starting to come true, with eight operators - China Mobile, MTS, Orange, Smart, Telefónica, Telenor, Verizon and Vodafone - connecting storefronts to the platform.
Today, there are 12,000 applications in the store. They are based on the first version of the WAC specification, which was published in September last year. The organisation also announced version 2.0 of the spec, which allows developers to use HTML5 and allows applications to access the phone's file system.
However, the big change in the kind of applications developers can build using the WAC platform comes with version 3.0, which is scheduled to arrive in September and will include access to features in the operator networks, including billing and authentication. Access to location data is also likely to be part of the specification, according to a WAC spokesman.
Ericsson has developed and is launching a white-label, WAC-enabled storefront that operators can use to get up and running quickly. Telenor is planning to use it in a pilot test in Serbia.
Huawei, LG, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and ZTE are all members of the community. In the WAC booth, Samsung, for example, demonstrated its new Galaxy S II running applications based on the WAC specification. At a press conference, Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg held up a Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 running WAC-based applications.
Browser developer Opera has announced its Widget Runtime, which allows Android-based smartphones to run applications based on the first version of the WAC specification.
The speed with which WAC has gone from concept to launching live services is impressive, but more phones are needed, according to Shaun Collins, managing director at market research company CCS Insight.