HomeNewsMobile operators wary of OneAPI, says Airwide

    Mobile operators wary of OneAPI, says Airwide


    Too much time and investment required, argues messaging firm

    Airwide, a privately-held messaging company with 145 mobile operator customers, is not seeing much operator enthusiasm for OneAPI, the GSMA initiative to develop common network APIs that can be used by application developers.

    "Mobile operators are waiting to see which way OneAPI will go before they commit on it," says Jay Seaton, Airwide CMO. "They have more urgent priorities in working out how they fit into the app store market right now, and to stop third-parties taking all the revenue. As it stands at the moment, OneAPI doesn't specify much."

    OneAPI was hatched by the GSMA in January 2008 and initially focused on the five most likely APIs they thought they could turn into common APIs: messaging, location, charging, user profile (demographic, as well as whether the customer is pre-paid or post-paid) and a data connection profile.  GSMA's thinking is that mobile users can have much more interesting and personalised applications if developers have access to network APIs compared with applications written  for specific handsets (such as the iPhone), although it remains to be seen how enthusiastic application developers will be in working directly with network operators. However, if developers can have access to common APIs, they won't have to duplicate their efforts to meet the proprietary requirements of individual operators.    

    Despite Seaton's scepticism, the GSMA Association did announce at MWC 2010 the first commercial OneAPI pilot, which involves Canadian operators Bell Mobility, Rogers Communications and TELUS.

    "A common set of APIs will benefit the entire mobile industry by making it much more attractive for developers to create innovative applications and services by utilising the capabilities and information provided by operators about their networks," said Michael O'Hara, Chief Marketing Officer at the GSMA in  statement. "Our OneAPI initiative will help eliminate fragmentation and aid the growth of the mobile applications ecosystem, resulting in a larger addressable market, encouraging innovation, enhancing the customer experience and creating new revenue opportunities for mobile operators and developers alike."

    If Seaton's assessment is right, however, there won't be much more OneAPI activity anytime soon. "OneAPI is years away," he says.

     As part of its portfolio, Airwide helps network operators expose their APIs to application developers through its messaging gateway product.