A plan to make apps work on all phones, TVs and cars has received €10m of EU funding. An alliance of companies and standards bodies are working on Webinos, which could run apps in a Web environment that will work on any operating system and any device, from your iPhone 4 to your HTC Desire to your BMW X3.
Twenty-two partners, including Deutsche Telekom and Telecom Italia, Sony Ericsson and Samsung, BMW, Oxford University and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standards body, have formed together like an app-obsessed Justice League. The result is Webinos.
Also among the group is someone with a flair for acronyms, like Fokus (Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems) FAME (Future Applications and Media), ELAN (Electronic Government and Applications), MOTION (Modeling and Testing for System and Service Solutions), and, er, NGNI (Next Generation Network Infrastructures).
No matter how many acronyms they chuck at the problem, there's an awful lot of work to do. Google's Android, Nokia's Symbian and Apple's iOS4 are just the tip of the operating system iceberg. Webinos has to create a standard environment across automotive, gaming and IPTV platforms too, all by running apps in a Web environment.
A laudable intention, but not everybody's convinced. Cynics suggest other, similar initiatives like the the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem and the Wholesale Applications Community are talking shops with a mere veneer of co-operation from the vested interests -- and their acronyms are rubbish.
After all, if you make it too easy for customers to use other people's products they might actually up and do it. Apple certainly isn't having any of that kind of malarkey, maintaining a grip of steel on the keys to the iTunes App Store's walled garden.
Fingers crossed but breath not held, then. On a final note, what kind of British publication would we be without a quick poke at the EU: in the recent film The Special Relationship -- it's on iPlayer now, you'll catch it if you're quick -- Michael Sheen's Tony Blair remarks that you can "take any word in the English language that excites you, like 'sex' or 'food' or 'money', and completely remove any pleasure it arouses -- simply by adding the prefix Euro". Let's hope we won't have to add the word 'app' to that list.