Telecom giants in Canada may seem at war with one another when it comes to advertising and promotion, but signals of collaboration continue to emerge, even as the competitor complaints keep getting louder.
Smaller companies looking to compete with wireless spectrum have been particularly displeased by Bell and Telus teaming to create a mobile network to take on Rogers. The purchase of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment by Rogers and Bell, meanwhile, has led to competitors including Telus voicing opposition to the potential tying up of sports broadcast rights.
Flying beneath the mainstream media radar, though, is their harmonic "co-opetition" in a service designed to make it easier for application developers to bring their ideas to market: OneAPI, the service launched in Canada this month after a two-year trial, promises an instant gateway to all of Bell, Rogers and Telus. What used to involve an 18-24-month process of sorting out carrier contracts related to application programming interface can now be delivered within a minute.
GSMA touted this advancement through a series of events across Canada, including at OCAD in Toronto, for an audience eager to reach what now amounts to 93 per cent of the mobile customers in the country. Statistics showing that 40 minutes of the average mobile user's day are now spent fiddling with apps — compared to seven minutes for email, 10 minutes for the web and 27 for telephony — were presented as part of rallying the developer set.
The fact that similar harmony has not been attained stateside, as reflected in examples like that fact that American Idol voters can only text their favourite via AT&T, is part of the pitch that Canada has a system in place for an app to reach a critical mass in the minimum amount of time. Providing smoother access to open data via OneAPI promises greater satisfaction for users and a more seamless billing process.
Poised to benefit from this service are apps like WINICabs (which provides information about where the closes available taxi can be found) and MobiKid (which helps parents trace children by pulling up their latest activities online). Yet, with the growth of both cloud computing and big data sources, the assumption is that the best ideas have yet to be invented by independent thinkers.
Because no matter how much content they produce on their own, given how much advertising for mobile in Canada touting their benefits for use of Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, it certainly helps if the app ideas with the greatest appeal have easy access to the market. Ceding a bit of control, at least in this case, seems to be seen as good for building leverage in the smartphone business.