AT&T took a step toward a more open network, posting its developer guidelines to the Web. These developer guidelines were previously only available to application developer partners and handset makers. This release comes a week after Apple released its SDK and a week before Verizon Wireless is scheduled to reveal technical specs at its Open Development Device Conference.
AT&T has said this decision is as much about giving customers what they want as it as about keeping up with the competition. AT&T spokesperson Brad Mays, wrote in an e-mail: “This speaks to the growing competition among wireless carriers to further differentiate their services and the importance of giving consumers more things to do with their wireless phones as the capabilities of those phones increase.”
Along with “openness,” AT&T has said that this new push is about encouraging developers and handset manufacturers “to consider the needs of seniors or customers who have disabilities when designing products and services.” The carrier calls its developer guidelines Universal Design principles, or “the practice of designing products and applications that are usable by the broadest possible range of consumers.”
With the Universal Design guidelines, any developer can create a program and submit it to AT&T for certification. Approved programs will be made available on the carrier’s mobile site, MEdia Mall; AT&T will split revenues from application sales with developers. Applications also may be installed directly on certain handsets during the manufacturing process.
Mays continued: “Beyond our company efforts, we believe it’s important for the wireless industry as a whole to embrace the concept of Universal Design so that more people, regardless of age or physical abilities, will be able to benefit from and utilize wireless products and services. At the end of the day, it’s about giving consumers more choices.”
The carrier has said that more than 20,000 application developers have already registered to access the code. Developer guidelines are available at http://developer.att.com/universaldesign.