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Verizon joins software project for handsets

02 апреля 2009

Verizon Wireless, the leading US mobile phone operator, is joining a research project to develop software-based services for handsets that was founded by Vodafone of the UK, China Mobile and Japan’s Softbank.

The four operators are looking to secure additional revenue partly by selling mobile software to their combined customer base of more the 800m users.

It underlines how the operators are unwilling to allow Apple, Google and Nokia to dominate the supply of mobile software for handsets.

Apple has enjoyed much success with its iPhone, partly because the technology company has an online application store where people can download software applications to handsets.

The applications cover multiple services, including games, maps and social networks. One of the latest is software by Skype, the internet phone company, enabling iPhone owners to make some calls for free.

Verizon Wireless, Vodafone, China Mobile and Softbank are planning to provide software developers with the tools to create applications that can run on handsets made by different manufacturers.

The first applications are expected to be released in the second half of the year, as the operators launch their own application stores.

The research project has been working on a common technology platform that will enable the applications to run on different mobile operating systems.

The first three systems are likely to be Nokia’s Symbian, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile.

Ivan Seidenberg, chief executive of Verizon Communications, which owns 55 per cent of Verizon Wireless, said the initiative would accelerate the mobile software market “to the tipping point and make these useful applications widely available across any device, any handset, anywhere around the world”.

The research project is hoping that it will have huge attractions for software developers.

The four mobile operators have customers in more than 70 countries across Africa, Asia, Europe and the US. The software developers that provide applications for Apple’s application store take 70 cents of every dollar spent by iPhone owners. The remainder goes to Apple.Verizon Wireless has 80m customers. Vodafone, the world’s largest operator by revenue, has 256m. China Mobile, the world’s largest operator by market capitalisation, has 471m. Softbank has 20m.

A similar revenue sharing arrangement is expected between developers and Verizon Wireless, Vodafone, China Mobile and Softbank.

James Barford, analyst at Enders Analysis, raised doubts about the effectiveness of the technology platform that the operators have been working on.

Mr Barford said: “The marriage of giant US, European, Chinese and Japanese operators looks good on paper, but these markets are so different in cultural terms, particularly with regard to mobile data use, that any platform that encompasses all may be ill suited to any.”

Источник: Financial Times

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