London is to become the centre of a fightback by mobile phone networks against the growing power of Apple and Google.
The British capital will be the location for the headquarters of a new business that will create a single global market for downloadable mobile phone applications, allowing the mobile phone companies to cash in on the growing craze for “apps” for smart phones.
By the end of the year, the mobile phone companies could be in a position to present application developers with a single standard that will operate across everything from Blackberry devices to mass market Samsung and LG handsets.
Apple shares revenues with app developers, not networks. Google does the same with its Android platform. Later this year handsets from the likes of HTC and ZTE that use the Google software and are aimed at the mass market will start appearing. According to recent research, almost one in every five smartphones in the UK uses Android now.
The mobile phone companies were galvanised into action by the appearance of Google's own-branded mobile phone, the Nexus One, at the start of the year. Google is eyeing a portfolio of mobile phones over which it has complete control.
At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February, more than a dozen mobile phone companies including O2, Vodafone and Orange announced their intention to form the Wholesale Applications Community.
WAC now has 40 members, and is set to merge with another industry body called the Open Mobile Terminal Platform (OMTP).
Backed by nine operators, OMTP developed the nascent Bondi open apps standard, which is used in the recently announced Samsung Wave handset.