WAC’s most whacky adventure

You heard the story: Two dozen Rip Van Winkles wake up one day and decide that it would be a good idea to band together to defeat the evil monster in the forest. They lounge about, wring their hands, have a beer, perhaps two dozen kegs of beer, and then, in a moment of sheer brilliance, name their holy alliance Wholesale Applications Community (WAC).

The first word of their first collective action, wholesale, ought to tell us all we need to know about the likelihood of their success. Like shoveling commodities to the hapless consumer, “without distinction” as the dictionary would put it. Because for the Rip Van Winkle alliance, software is just like sacks of commodities. You load them up on a truck, send them to a depot someplace and you’re done. They call it, “Load’em up once, ship’em everywhere.” After all, rice is rice “without distinction” whether you’re in India, China or Japan, right?

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It gets whackier at WAC’s manifesto site: wholesaleappcommunity.com, and yes, that’s the URL.

If you believed the fantastic and utterly bogus numbers generated by VCs and the peddlers of the first generation of mobile phones about how many billions of WAP phones would eclipse traditional wired access to the Internet just any day now, then you’d be very comfortable with WAC’s claim:

Will establish a simple route to market for developers and provide them with access to a customer base of over 3 billion customers.

Some access. Just how many of these 3 billion phones are in fact capable of running, say, smartphone-class applications is of course a minor detail, as we’re dealing with wholesale commodities after all. Here’s a thought: either these carriers “own” these 3 billion customers in which case developers for whom WAC was supposedly created get shafted or developers own those customers, which we know won’t be the case as there’s no incentive for the carriers.

Then comes the biggest bludgeon only a giant Rip Van Winkle can murderously handle:

The alliance aims to unite a fragmented marketplace by involving players from all related industries to create a community based on openness and transparency to the benefit of all.

Yes, you read it right, “openness and transparency to the benefit of all” by phone carriers. It is a terrific idea to bring into this pitch phone carriers’ biggest asset: openness and transparency! But that’s not enough. To rally openness advocates something else has to be bolted on:

We believe our model presents the most compelling format on the market where developers will thrive and customers will reap the benefits of greater choice.

Of course, choice. By the traditional champions of choice, phone carriers no less! Because, truth be told we just don’t already have enough choice in phones or mobile OSes.

WAC’s ambitions know no bounds:

…access to the latest and widest range of innovative applications and services to as many customers as possible worldwide.

This alliance will deliver scale unparalleled by any application distribution ecosystem in existence today.

It’s wholesale in case you forgot. This could go on. Forever. So let’s cut to the chase:

In practice this means that developers will only have to create one version of their application and this can be used on multiple types of devices and operating systems (such as Symbian, Android, Windows etc) which is not the case today.

Here’s a challenge to WAC: if you believe in this fantasy, or more likely if you want developers and users to fall for it, why don’t you design a mobile operating system that works on all devices not named iPhone or iPad and be done with it. Kill them all and replace them with your grand unifying OS. Until then, you can wade through search results for why “Load’em up once, ship’em everywhere” never works…on your 1.5-inch phone screens.

9 thoughts on “WAC’s most whacky adventure

  1. They seem to have all the right buzz words checked off. Don’t see why it shouldn’t work. Seriously though, if it is such a great idea it would have been done long ago. Apple has shown that there is tons of money in apps and has also shown how it is done. But the rest of the mobile industry is the exact opposite of what Apple is. And WAC isn’t actually looking to learn here. They really do just want to throw out all the buzzwords Apple is attracting lately but try and tie all of them to this big new shiny thing they have. Just don’t look to close though because this is just part of a FUD effort. This is the doubt part that they hope to have people thinking this could make Apple’s app store look like small potatos. Fat chance.

  2. Having worked at Nokia on a web-centric delivery mechanism for several years, I can authoritatively state that this is at best a fantasy that will never come to pass. This is simply something that is technically impossible to achieve on Nokia devices, let alone all the other devices out there. Once again, carriers trying to muscle in on a market they suddenly see as a revenue generator proved by someone else, but they have neither the innovation, capability or patience to pull off themselves.

  3. The idea that this herd of cats will produce anything other than a steaming turd is laughable. I was half-astonished* to hear an analyst on the radio yesterday talking about how Apple should be worried about these titans of industry presenting a serious challenge to Apple’s app ptore.
    You know, the same way that Apple soiled itself when the major record labels got together to announce that they were going to deliver their own online music service and completely destroyed the iTunes store.

    * Only halfway astonished because I figure that the analyst was a PR flack or something.

  4. We go to Costco wholesale regularly and we love it, no problems with returns, and they really keep the lines moving. It seems to be a very well run business.

    But going to a wholesale place means you DON’T have as many choices which is the exact opposite as what WAC is trying to sell us. At Costco, if you don’t like Tropicana, no pulp OJ in the two gallon quantity, you are out of luck. In order to keep an efficient operation, Costco tightly controls inventory and variety and sells in bulk and you have to become a member.

    You simply can’t have infinite variety AND infinite compatibility.

  5. But .. but .. Consumers LOVE it when the word WHOLESALE is in the name!

    Think Sam’s WHOLESALE Club and its ilk.

    That charming warehouse ambience! Those enormous packages! Those long, slow checkout lines! That guy at the exit going through your cart, comparing the contents against your receipt!

  6. This sounds like an MBA dreamed up solution – kill the competition with one giant blow. I don’t know how many of these fantasy plots I have lived through. In 2004 I understood the giant compatibility nightmare the whole cellphone market faced when it came to applications. I can’t imagine that anything substantial has changed since then. even with Android. The key for Apple is to focus and outmaneuver the competition.

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