#MWC11 – Telefonica's head of R&D on how startups could innovate on carrier platforms (TCTV)

Telefonica has a big reach. It is the the world’s third largest operator behind China Mobile and Vodafone. But while everyone is talking about the massive shift in the world of mobile eco-systems, as Nokia and Microsoft get into bed together, it’s less widely known that Telefonica is embracing the radical shift towards the long tail of developers and startups epitomised by the new world of apps and app stores.

To that end it’s recently launched a developer platform called BlueVia . This enables developers to tie their applications or mobile websites into APIs which can enable carrier billing, user profiling or even analytics. The big shift is that developers are charged nothing to use the APIs. The revenue split is also pretty good: 70% if your application is in their own App Store, and you get 70% of subscription fees if the app uses recurring billing. You can also reap 20% of incoming SMS fees, and 10% of outgoing SMS fees. So SMS-enable you app, tie it in to BlueVia and start watching the cash roll in. Well, maybe!

The first features are available with O2 Litmus in the UK, Open MovilForum in Spain, Movistar Developers Platform in Mexico and Plataforma do Desenvolvedores Vivo in Brazil. But a roll-out is planned globally and it’s tied into the OneAPI platform promoted across carriers by the GSMA. BlueVia represents a smart way for Telefonica to interact with startups and app developers – because it represents a revenue opportunity for apps outside of just the normal App store approach and can actually sit along side apps.

At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, I caught up with Carlos Domingo, head of research and development at Telefonica and asked not not only about BlueVia but also about where the carriers will fit in the brave new world of the mobile eco-systems.