Image via Wikipedia Until now, the smartphone market has been divided between the main operators, the most blatant example being the agreement between Apple and AT&T. Each brand has its own app ecosystem. More than 300,000 applications will be accessible in the Apple App Store by the end of 2010, and between 50,000 and 75,000 applications will be provided in the Android Market. Applications are the symbol of the smartphone, but also one of its main values. For brands that have invested in the mobile app market or want to do so, the breakup of market forces has caused them to multiply applications across platforms. Strategically speaking, smartphones' individual OS's maintain control over the attractive and steadily growing market by forcing developers to adapt to a new format for each ecosystem and seeking the consent of the OS owner before an app can hit the market. Apple, Google, Blackberry and Nokia are engaged in a format war that forgets the consumer and constrains


This strategy could now be in jeopardy with Monday's announcement of the first common application store, made at Mobile World Congress 2010. AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and other 24 major mobile operators including China Mobile, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Vodafone and Wind, and three manufacturers -- Samsung, Sony Ericsson, and LG Electronics -- gathered to try to stop the monopoly of the market's giant, Apple.

The Wholesale Applications Community will look like an open development platform that enables applications to run on a variety of devices. The store will encourage the development of an Apple App Store alternative, bypass the complicated and random approval process and give more choices to the consumer. For mobile operators, it's a first step towards greater control of the mobile market and its leader. The participating operators serve more than 3 million consumers worldwide. So far, no deadline has been announced for the launch of the first applications.

By Mathilde Berchon