S'pore group to spur mobile development

Summary:Led by Singapore carrier SingTel, the initiative pledges US$1.6 million over the next two years to drive development of mobile applications.

SINGAPORE--Local carrier Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) has assembled a team of partners in a bid to support budding mobile developer talent in the country.

Dubbed the SingTel Partner Programme, the initiative is led by SingTel and backed by eight other participants, namely, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), Forum Nokia, HTC, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia Siemens Networks, Research in Motion and Sony Ericsson.

Collectively, these program partners have pledged to contribute S$2.3 million (US$1.6 million), in cash or in kind, over the next two years to encourage software development work on the mobile platform.

The program will launch a Web portal on Feb. 1 to facilitate discussion between developers and testers, as well as a laboratory--housed within SingTel's premises--for developers to test their applications over various handsets and networks.

SingTel expects the provision of the infrastructure to lower barriers to entry for developers who may not be able to afford the cost of acquiring the handsets or accessing the network. SingTel is opening access to its 3G and 3.5G networks, while Nokia Siemens has provided an IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) network for the lab.

Ong Geok Chwee, director of business development for SingTel's business marketing division, said in a media briefing Monday: "We want to encourage innovation by lowering development cost."

Ong explained that there were two key "pain points" for developers: cost of development testing and the lack of brand identity, which prevents smaller players access to a market audience.

She said the new initiative will provide much-needed exposure to companies that lack brand awareness, and which may decide to take up further development of their projects.

However, Ong noted that developers will have to go through proper evaluation and be deemed commercially viable before they can work with the program partners.

Kang Aik Siang, SingTel Mobile's director of consumer products, said developers will be requested to submit ideas after registration. The ideas are then "monitored and evaluated" by SingTel, and registrants with potential will likely be able to pitch their ideas to the program partners, Kang explained.

"Ideas are also graded by customer feedback, and from indicators such as how many people download the beta version [of the application], for example," he added.

While registration is open to all, Ong noted that "businesses located in Singapore are preferred". For now, SingTel will not seek to obtain exclusive rights or implement restrictions to applications developed as a result of the program, she said.

SingTel's Singapore CEO Allen Lew, said: "We are pleased to share our technical expertise through basic training and consultancy services, for free.

"We expect to sign up more than 40 software developers and roll out at least ten solutions from this initiative, and market them in Singapore and the region over the next two years," added Lew.

IDA CEO Ronnie Tay, who gave an opening address at the launch, said the IDA is open to supporting such initiatives from other operators and vendors in the country.

Topics: Security, Apps, Hardware, Mobility, Software, Software Development

About

Victoria Ho is a tech journalist based in Singapore, whose writing has appeared in publications such as ZDNet, TechCrunch, and The Business Times. When she's not obsessing about IT, you can find her tinkering with music and daydreaming about which guitar to buy next.

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