The consultancy, services and outsourcing company Accenture announced on Tuesday at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that it is establishing a business to help companies and mobile operators develop and deploy their own mobile applications.
Called Accenture Mobility Operating Services (MOS), the business will help companies set up mobile applications for vertical markets, Accenture said in a statement. The service will provide "ready-to-deploy" applications suitable for cloud computing, said Accenture, which is targeting money management, voucher and ticketing applications, mobile data collection and other application areas.
The main infrastructure component of the service is Accenture's Service Delivery Platform (SDP), which the company uses for deploying software services. SDP is an architecture composed of hardware, software and services that is intended to work across different industries and deliver software and services in each of them.
Gartner analyst Nick Jones said he thought the move by Accenture was interesting, and that it looked like a case of the company "trying to become a network operator".
"If you look at the literature it is all about a company offering the type of services a network operator would," he said. "Whether Accenture wants to be a network operator is another question, and I suspect that, really, they don't. They know that so many operators these days just offer a big, fat pipe."
Jones said there was no shortage of companies trying to offer different services on the same lines such as Ericsson, virtual network operator Jasper and Fujitsu Services. "And then you have all the companies offering services like HP, SAP and so on," he said.
"Service providers and enterprises are increasingly looking to harness advances in wireless technology to provide a set of high-value mobile services to their customers," said Curtis Price, of analysts IDC, in a statement. "Accenture MOS provides a flexible platform that enables a variety of industry-specific mobile applications while supporting open APIs for third-party application development."
Speaking at Mobile World Congress, Andy Zimmerman, managing director of Accenture's new business group, said: "Users no longer want 'just voice services' or 'just [mobile] phone coverage'. They are looking for data services to enhance their professional and personal lives and nearly every industry is looking for a wireless networked device solution."
Accenture has launched the business in Italy, and plans to expand into other parts of Europe next, before moving to the Americas and Asia Pacific later in the year.
The company said it will target the communications, financial services, resources, retail, automotive and public-service sectors before moving into other markets.
On pricing, Accenture said it will charge customers per-transaction or will charge for a subscription with pricing based on the volume. Alternatively, customers can choose to be charged by the number of devices on a network.