At the Sprint Developer Conference today, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse (image above) introduced what the operator is calling the "Browser-VAS" ecosystem. It's supposed to let developers create and monetize browser based apps. Browser-VAS is built around Openwave's Integra cloud service. Hopefully, the service will have a more user friendly name when it launches in the first half of 2011.
The apps appear in a toolbar that users can optionally add to the browser. They can then "install" free and paid apps from a "Storefront" that's built into the toolbar. The toolbar is context aware. For example, it will only display a language translation app on pages that aren't in the user's native language and data intensive apps can be hidden when the user is roaming.
Openwave's Integra web service sits in the data stream between the end user and the 3rd party web apps. It evaluates the relevance rules defined by the app against user data supplied by the network such as the user's unique id, location, rate plan and roaming status. The user data is not shared with the apps and user must ot-in to the program and can define which sites the toolbar appears on.
The service is designed to be cross platform and cross browser but initially will only support the HTC Epic and EVO.
Browser-VAS will go live on the Sprint network in the first half of 2011. The Eclipse plug-in and a sandbox testing environment will be available soon to developers who register at success.openwave.com/developer-app.html