LAS VEGAS—AT&T today announced the launch of AT&T Apps Beta, a new initiative that gives developers the chance to test applications with AT&T customers and receive direct consumer feedback before making their applications broadly available.
In what sounds similar to work being done by the likes of Symbian, AT&T issued an open invitation to developers to submit apps. Symbian, an open source platform competing with Google’s Android, allows developers to present their code and have it critiqued and tested by others working within the platform.
AT&T cited a commitment to openness and innovation with Apps Beta program, signaling what many believe will be the prevailing trend in an industry struggling to reduce fragmentation.
What is unique is AT&T’s opening the program up to customers. “This may be one of the great ideas that solves one of the biggest black holes in the wireless industry, but do you think they could have come up with a smoother name?,” quipped telecom analyst Jeff Kagan.
“Our goal is to deepen the dialogue with developers and give customers a chance to tell us what works and what doesn’t,” said David Christopher, chief marketing officer for AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets, in a press release.
Christopher said AT&T intends to facilitate collaboration between the developer community and early adopters.
AT&T is accepting applications from developers beginning today. Developers can go to www.att.com/appsbeta for an overview of the program and a complete list of requirements for participation.
The program will give developers feedback through app ratings, feature suggestions and identification of bugs. A typical trial period will last roughly four to six weeks. Additionally, developers can use AT&T Apps Beta to get targeted user input for applications they may have already launched broadly.
AT&T said that apps that are particularly well-received may be made available to all AT&T customers through AT&T’s content and multimedia storefront, AT&T Media Mall and could receive additional promotional support or featured placement in customer-facing channels.
AT&T customers with compatible handsets can download applications for trial at no cost. AT&T plans to market the program to AT&T customers in the coming weeks. An unlimited data plan is required for customers who participate.
Kagan said it feels like the move from AT&T represents one of the key themes of the CTIA Wireless 2009 show: growth. “This points to the fact that the wireless industry is expanding and letting users choose from a large and growing variety of wireless programs for home and work,” he said.