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Cell phone firms agree on universal apps project

BARCELONA, Spain - The world's largest wireless carriers, including the four largest in the United States, announced Monday they are combining forces to make it easier for software developers to write applications to run on as many phones as possible.

The "Wholesale Applications Community" is an attempt to retake the initiative from phone makers like Apple, Nokia and Research in Motion, which have their own apps stores. Google is also building a store for its Android software.

The 24 carriers in the community, announced here on the first day of the annual Mobile World Congress trade show, will let software developers write applications that will run on phones from many different manufacturers. While there won't be a joint applications store, a developer will be able to submit an application and have it sold across several different carrier stores.

Cell phones apps are a fast-growing market, yet developers face the problem their products run on only a few phones. For instance, an application for Apple's iPhone won't run on any other phone.

U.S. carriers Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA are part of the group. Meanwhile, Samsung Electronics, the largest maker of cell phones for the U.S. market, revealed Sunday the first phone running Samsung's own "smart" software. It's called bada.

With bada, Korea-based Samsung is taking the TouchWiz system used on its touch-screen non-smart phones and making it the basis of a smart-phone platform, hoping to compete with the iPhone and the BlackBerry. Samsung said the phone will go on sale in April. - AP

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