Another year, another nutty idea

Two dozen mobile operators announced a WACky idea at this year’s Mobile World Congress: their own collective app store.  A single coherent mobile developers’ Nirvana. Chances of success: nil.

MWC 2010 is over now, so maybe the laughter has subsided. No, I think I can still hear it.

The Wholesale Applications Community (WAC) is an attempt to create an environment where application developers can deliver their wares across a wide variety of mobile platforms. An extension of the Apple App Store perhaps? No. Apple have nothing to do with this. Well at least the other big device people are on board, right? No. You won’t find any RIM Blackberries here. Nor will you see any sign of Nokia. Google are also steering clear.

While the heavy hitters in the WAC slug it out for platform supremacy, the most active people in the developer community will continue to tool up for iPhone and Android development (with perhaps a little bit of Nokia/Intel MeeGo added to that mix). The WAC will get tied up in disagreements, unrealistic timeframes, unforeseen technical challenges, unrealistic goals and the inevitable blame games. It won’t be long before the whole thing is abandoned.

Meanwhile, the only real cross-platform mobile application solution has got to its feet. Years of puzzlement over the diverse new environment we know as “mobile” are being cleared away as the big daddy of global platforms finally gets a grip. The Web is reaching out, and is going to start smacking heads together. It might take a few years while the device-specific app devotees ply their trade, but when the dust settles, the Web will be standing tall.

Why? The answer is mainly because Web technology is evolving, learning. The Web has become so ingrained in our lives that we take it for granted. On every desktop, it is king. As the desktop or workstations evolved, so did the Web. But mobile took it by surprise. Industry tried to bring desktop-thinking into the mobile world, and failed. Through laziness, poorly designed and poorly implemented browser technology dominated desktops. These qualities effectively barred them from the constrained mobile environments where every whisper of energy was vital, every modicum of memory precious. Thankfully the world does not stand still. Browsers improve. Web servers improve. Mobile hardware improves. Mobile networking improves. The core of the Web itself improves and expands. Today we are approaching the critical combination, and around the corner is coming HTML 5. What the Web will bring us next will be nothing short of magical.

Look out apps, you’re about to be caught in the Web.

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