AT&T Buys App Developer Plusmo - InformationWeek

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12:40 PM

AT&T Buys App Developer Plusmo

The purchase will enable AT&T to boost its mobile applications and widgets for mobile phones, personal computers, and television.

AT&T acquired application developer Plusmo for an undisclosed amount, and the company plans to use the technology to spread apps to mobile phones, televisions, and personal computers.

The privately held Plusmo specializes in a platform that enables developers to use common Web development standards to create apps across various mobile operating systems and devices. AT&T said it will reduce development time of apps, cut costs, and enable a wider range of over-the-air updates. The company sees cell phones and smartphones as a natural target for this platform, but it also plans to experiment with the platform by bringing widgets and apps to PCs and TVs.

"The addition of Plusmo adds a new dimension to our technology prowess through its multi-platform approach," said David Krantz, president of AT&T Interactive, in a statement. "It highlights our commitment to invest in mobile application innovation and search leadership."

The move shows the growing importance of applications in the mobile space, and much of this momentum can be attributed to the success of Apple's App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Apple was not the first to offer apps for smartphones, but iPhone and iPod Touch users have downloaded more than 2 billion apps in the span of about 14 months.

This success has not gone unnoticed by rivals, as Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Research In Motion, and Samsung have also launched similar ways for users to browse, buy, download, and install programs over the air. But carriers like AT&T don't see many direct benefits from these third-party app stores, as the store owners retain a percentage of sold apps and may pay the wireless operators modest fees for mobile bandwidth.

Acquiring companies like Plusmo may allow AT&T to bolster its own MEdia Net content portal for mobile phones in order to generate more direct revenue. Rival Verizon Wireless is also trying to capitalize on the growing interest in apps, and it is working on developing its own app store that will be able to reach the majority of Verizon's subscribers.

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