Telefonica, in conjunction with Microsoft, has launched a software development kit for its BlueVia platform that provides developers with Microsoft app development tools as well as operator APIs, the companies said in a joint announcement on Monday.
BlueVia's cloud-based tools allow developers access to Telefonica's network APIs to add extra functionality to their software. For example, it adds the capability to integrate text-message capabilities into an app. The BlueVia software development kit (SDK) for .NET integrates access to Microsoft Silverlight, .NET framework and Visual Studio 2010 development tools.
It also includes access to the Windows Azure cloud platform, which Microsoft said allows developers to scale up their operation when required, and without the need for any initial investment in infrastructure.
"Having the network assets and services easily available and programmable in an application provides developers with a more attractive opportunity," said a spokesperson for Microsoft. "Developers can 'think big' without having to invest their way up."
Developers can 'think big' without having to invest their way up. – Microsoft
The SDK provides drag-and-drop development controls and templates for Visual Studio 2010. According to the companies, this will allow developers to produce apps for a variety of devices and screen sizes, including on PC, TV and gaming platforms.
However, one of the key advantages for developers, according to Telefonica, is the potential to add an extra revenue stream to the developers' business model, bringing them beyond the initial point-of-sale purchase.
The example was given of an app called Tweetalondoncab, which allows people to book taxis via Twitter. This app uses the BlueVia SMS API to reach those who only have feature phones, rather than smartphones. On top of providing extra functionality, Telefonica said it also pays developers 10 percent of the revenue of messages sent using the service.
Microsoft's Azure platform supports a variety of programming languages, including .NET, Java, PHP, Ruby and Python. Azure-hosted apps can then be published to a selection of Microsoft platforms, including Windows Phone 7 handsets and Windows 7 tablets, PCs or netbooks, as well as non-Microsoft platforms.
The BlueVia platform is still in a controlled beta phase, but is set to move into open beta in the "next few weeks", at which point applications will not have to be approved, a BlueVia spokesperson told ZDNet UK.
The platform currently provides developers with four operator APIs — two for SMS messaging, one for in-app advertising and one for contextual information — but Telefonica, which operates in the UK as O2, said it would announce voice-related APIs in the future. Telefonica's spokesman also said that the company is working on a location API.