AT&T made several announcements today that it hopes will boost the apps and phones on the company’s mobile network. Chief among them were the addition of devices using Google’s Android operating system and a new “Apps for All” initiative that will make it easier for developers to build non-smartphone apps.
Ralph de la Vega, president and chief executive of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets, made the announcements on-stage at the company’s developer summit in Las Vegas today. AT&T will soon add Android phones built by Motorola, HTC, and Dell — in fact, Motorola is giving out free Android phones to summit attendees later today.
Also falling under the network’s goal to “continue supporting the smartphone apps revolution,” AT&T said that with the addition of Nokia’s Ovi and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile app stores, it should now support most major smartphone operating systems and stores. It’s also launching a site for emerging devices, like e-readers and navigation devices, on the AT&T network.
AT&T said its next major goal is to “spur the apps revolution beyond smartphones.” Its “Apps for All” program is aimed at mid-range “quick messaging devices,” which don’t have all the features of a smartphone but do have QWERTY keyboards and mobile web browsers. They’re used chiefly for text messaging, and make up 30 percent of the devices on AT&T’s network. The company is teaming up with Qualcomm to allow developers to build applications using the BREW platform that will work across all of the quick-messaging devices on AT&T’s network.
“Two-thirds of the devices that we’re selling today are not smartphones,” De La Vega said, so this initiative should help solve the “developer’s dilemma,” where a small developer, especially, wants to make their apps available on multiple phones, but doesn’t necessarily have the resources to build the app over and over again to be compatible with each different type of phone.
De la Vega also touched on two other goals: to enhance developer programs and continue investing in its network. The company’s announcement earlier today that it has upgraded its towers on the 3G network is presumably part of that last piece.