Interview: James Parton, head, O2 Litmus: A prelude to an app store?

O2 UK on Friday launched Litmus – a community uniting developers, frustrated by industry’s laborious approval processes, with early-adopter customers, keen to help test new products. It’s not exactly an app store – but it will speed up developer relations, could form the basis for Telefonica’s global application retail ambitions and may yet help open up Apple’s iPhone development process, too, Litmus head James Parton said…

What is it?: “It’s a fresh take on the developer community. We’re going to be bringing real O2 customers in to the environment – we’re stepping out of the way and allowing developers to interact with our customers. The historical model in terms of how we do development in O2 is, folk like myself look out in to industry and cherrypick the things we think our customers would like. We want to empower our customers to tell us what they really like and use it as an early radar system. When we get strong endorsements, we’ll then take those apps to the rest of our customers.”

An iPhone developer community?: Developers can release software for any platform, with Symbian, Java and Windows Mobile catered for so far. O2 is Apple’s iPhone carrier in the UK but, given Apple’s stringent iPhone development rules, are iPhone apps off-limits? “At the moment, the position with Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) is quite clear – Apple want developers to go to them and their developer community. We are in conversations with Apple about that.” So Litmus may play a part in opening up iPhone development? “We’re having conversations with Apple to see if we can get to that point.” Interview continued at…

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