Verizon Wireless has revealed that it plans to join the Joint Innovation Lab (JIL) established by China Mobile, SOFTBANK and Vodafone to help accelerate the uptake of innovative mobile technologies on a mass-market scale. The addition of Verizon Wireless, a joint venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone, would mean that the JIL would have a combined customer reach of approximately 1 billion consumers.
The JIL will initially focus on creating a single global platform for developers to encourage the creation of a wide range of innovative and useful mobile widgets. These mobile widgets will be capable of enhancing the mobile Internet experience on a variety of Smartphones, as well as mid-range and low-cost handsets on multiple operating systems.
As part of the initiative, later this year, the JIL plans to launch a range of tools to encourage innovation among global mobile developers. These include a common mobile widgets specification; easy-to-use developer kits; and an online repository, distribution and payment mechanism, to ensure that developers can roll out their products to customers in more than 70 countries across North America, Asia, Europe and Africa.
This partnership will enable four of the worlds leading mobile operators to pool their combined expertise, innovation and scale for the gain of customers across the globe, says JIL Chairman, Masayoshi Son. As well as driving innovation in the mobile developer world, this initiative is set to empower consumers by giving them access to a range of easy-to-use and compelling web applications that will enable them to get even more benefits from their handsets.
Mobile widgets are capable of boosting handset functionality as well as transforming the look and feel of a device to give customers quick and easy access to valued content. They are personalised, always-accessible mini applications that sit on a handset to retrieve relevant information from the web such as weather reports, sports updates, and travel timetables.
The JIL mobile widgets specification is set to enrich these services further by enabling developers to access both handset and network functionality such as the address book, camera, location information and billing in a secure environment.
The JIL has been working in close cooperation with a range of industry standards bodies such as the OMTP and the GSMA to outline specifications that will make it easier for developers to create widgets that run on a wide range of handsets, operating systems and networks. The JIL also welcomes the co-operation of vendors, developers and other operators in the creation of new applications and services.