Alcatel-Lucent announced their acquisition of ProgrammableWeb today. The hope is the further build out a platform that helps carriers provide mobile apps on-top of their services, hoping to compete with the iPhone and other “smart phones” that separate customers from cash with “apps” instead of “phone.”
Learning from the web
The idea of an “open API” comes largely from the web where free, simple access to services and data provided by many web sites is used to build popularity and valuable communities (which are then either solid for glorious exits, or milked for ad revenue or VC funding in hopes of said glorious exits).
ProgrammableWeb has long cataloged these open web APIs. In theory, buying ProgrammableWeb helps extend Alcatel’s open API initiatives more in the web space: much of the API usage that fuels mobile apps are done with web APIs anyhow. Technologically, many of these APIs shouldn’t care if the client access them are web sites, servers, or mobile devices.
Creating more reasons for customers to spend money.
What Alcatel is looking to bring to its customers is a richer pot of honey to attract developers with: those developers come to a carrier’s slice of the mobile world, develop apps using the various APIs, and if the apps are popular, they help retain and gain customers. Carriers are always at pains to draw down the high turn-over rate among customers, and gaining new customers is an even sweeter goal.
The larger context for Alcatel-Lucent is this: As a technology dealer for carriers and telcos, Alcatel-Lucent is trying to modernize carriers with technology open APIs. They want carriers to lure mobile application developers and get those developers to start interacting with the carrier service. The idea is to build out “value add” on-top of the traditional voice and data services, creating “apps” (to use the iPhone parlance) for users and revenue streams for both carriers and developers.
The transforming mobile space: beyond data and voice…