Calling All Application Developers: AOL Debuts Open Mobile Platform

Joining recent efforts to remove barriers from the mobile landscape, AOL has unveiled its AOL Open Mobile Platform to let third-party developers create applications that can run on all major devices and wireless networks.

The new platform will also allow developers to build new mobile applications around AOL products including AOL Instant Messenger and mail, MapQuest, Userplane, Truveo and Winamp, among others. Furthermore, developers will be able to monetize their mobile apps by through clickable banner ads and other ad units provided by AOL's Platform-A ad division. AOL will also let developers use outside third-party ad services.

Jai Jaisimha, vice president for AOL Mobile, said the open platform would encourage mobile innovation and help AOL expand its reach and mobile ad opportunities. "There's a lot of innovation that happens in the [developer] community and this platform will allow us to better meet the needs of the industry," he said.

The AOL mobile platform consists of three elements: an XML-based markup language, a mobile device browser, and an application server. The mobile interface will allow for fast customization of features and optimization on a variety of handsets.

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The AOL software, expected to be available this summer, will also be compatible with a wide range of mobile operating systems including BREW, Java, Symbian, Linux and Windows Mobile.

AOL's announcement at the Global System for Mobile Association (GSMA) World Mobile Congress Monday is the latest initiative to try to bypass the "walled garden" mobile world of closed networks and proprietary content. Google in November announced it would develop an open mobile platform with a coalition of carriers and handset makers. Shortly after, Verizon Wireless said it would start allowing any device running any application to operate on its network.

"I think [AOL] is following the lead of Google, Nokia, Verizon Wireless and others, looking to extend content and application throughput beyond what they create themselves and ultimately, create more ad inventory that they can monetize through their networks," said Jeff Janer, the former CMO of Third Screen Media before its acquisition by AOL last year.

AOL Instant Messenger and AOL mail are already two of the most popular mobile applications in the United States.

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