App Store competitor WAC gets folded into GSMA mobile industry body

The operator-led app publication initiative has been largely folded into the GSMA, with its technological side being hived off to API management specialists Apigee
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

The Wholesale Applications Community, an attempt by operators to create standardised cross-platform app stores, has been folded into the GSMA, the mobile industry trade body.

The group, known as WAC, offers developers a common platform for publishing HTML5 and native Android apps, as well as 'widgets' written to the WAC specifications. Although the group has been loath to describe the initiative as a carrier-led rival to Google's Play Store and Apple's App Store, its white-label operator storefronts do function in that way.

On Tuesday, the GSMA announced that WAC's "major programmes and initiatives" were to become part of the wider industry body. The technology side of WAC's work is being split off and bought by Apigee, an API management firm. As part of the deal, Apigee will continue to develop the WAC web runtime and APIs and provide them back to the operators as a managed service.

"Since its inception, WAC has been committed to simplifying the developer experience and fostering innovation through an open web run time and cross-operator API platform," GSMA chairman and Telecom Italia chief Franco Bernabè said in a statement.

"They have made strong progress, with operators deploying WAC apps and utilising the WAC Payment API. By integrating WAC into the GSMA, we will be able to scale this across our full membership, assisting operators around the world to better serve their customers."

Payment API

Although WAC provides a variety of APIs for its own widgets, the Payment API is the big one, as it makes it possible for customers to pay for in-app purchases through their phone bill.

There are clear benefits for users here but, as with the wider WAC play, the Payment API points to an attempt to wrest control over the users from the likes of Google and Apple.

The news that Apigee is to take over the WAC APIs comes as little surprise, given that the Payment API has been running on Apigee's Enterprise API management platform since its February launch.

According to a GSMA spokesperson, the WAC web runtime has been deployed on 12 million devices so far, through operators KT, LGU+, SK Telecom and Smart Communications.

"The WAC Payment API is in deployment with leading operators including AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, KT, LGU+, SK Telecom, Smart Communications, Telefónica and Telenor," the spokesperson added.

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