New Mobile Alliance to Go Public
By Eric Lin, Tue Jun 22 22:30:00 GMT 2004

Though many details were revealed months ago, the new alliance of European carriers formed to push standards and applications is due to launch Wednesday.

Two months back, Vodafone, Orange and others major operators revealed their intention to form a new alliance to push mobile standards and software. Today another report has leaked out that the alliance will officially make itself and its intentions known tomorrow.

In addition to the initial list of European carriers, mmO2 has tossed its hat in the ring. The surprise member is actually NTT DoCoMo, which already exerts a great deal of pressure on its handset manufacturers from features and software to naming conventions. Hutchison and KPN are rumored to be interested in joining the alliance as well, but will probably not join in time to be among the core members when they are announced tomorrow.

As expected, the alliance (it is not an evil shadow organization, the name simply has not leaked out as of yet) will try to pressure manufacturers into implementing whatever it determines to be the most compatible standard for messaging, video and other mobile data applications. It is also to expected to push development of these standards and applications on Java platforms. Vodafone and Orange, key members of the alliance would have invested heavily in SavaJe, one such Java-based smartphone OS which they would like to see succeed.

Although it is likely to use SavaJe and other Java OSes as proof of concept and demonstration platform for the standards, the alliance will also try to shop the final specifications to Microsoft and Symbian, using the considerable pressure these carriers can generate to get them on board. Manufacturers will then have to follow suit if they want to grab a large share in what the Yankee Group predicts to be an exploding market for smartphones in Western Europe.

The carriers have an opportunity to use their powers for good, using the alliance to improve usability and interoperability across all brands and Operating Systems. However with the continuing buzz linking the alliance with SavaJe, it sounds more and more like the alliance is out to strong-arm companies into its applications and OS as well as standards.