SingTel rides mobile apps wave

Following Singapore government's pledge to grow mobile services ecosystem, local telco unveils three mobile apps it hopes will help the organization become an established multimedia player.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor

SINGAPORE--Local telco Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) today reiterated its plans to become a multimedia industry player with the announcement of three consumer-centric mobile apps.

According to Allen Lew, CEO of SingTel Singapore, the move to become a multimedia player from a pure-play telecoms operator is a "natural extension" for the company. He said at the sidelines of a media briefing held Tuesday that while there's still room for growth as a telco, the growth margins are shrinking.

To continue growing the company, the executive said SingTel hopes to continually anticipate users' needs and provide not just what they want, but "what they will want".

"To quote the Brazilian football player, Pele, who once said that he wants to be where the ball will be and not where the ball was, this is what SingTel hopes to be doing too," Lew said during the briefing.

As an example of this, SingTel revealed three mobile applications that it hopes will bring customers into "the future of buying", the executive added.

The apps, Go! Shopping, Price Pal and Property Buddy, are reflections of the company's focus on "customer-centricity, simplicity and innovation", he pointed out.

Consumer-focused services
According to Lew, Go! Shopping is a location-based software that allows users to access accurate indoor maps of major Singapore shopping malls and see the various shops in each mall.

Property Buddy is an app that leverages on augmented reality to present a virtual map of properties for sale or rent. Users only need to point their phone's camera to a property and the last transacted price of properties within a 3-kilometer radius will be displayed on the phone.

These two apps are now available on both Apple's App Store and the Android Market for all local mobile users regardless of their operator, he said.

SingTel also said in a statement that the Go! Shopping app is compatible with iPhone 3G and Android version 1.6 and above, while Property Buddy currently only works on the iPhone 3GS, though plans are afoot to avail it on Android phones too.

The third app, Price Pal, allows users to compare prices of groceries, books and petrol either through text search or bar code scanning, according to the company.

It will be available to users of iPhone 3GS and those with at least Android version 1.6 installed "within the next two weeks", but is only available to SingTel users for now, Lew noted.

When asked if SingTel made use of the S$10 million (US$7.14 million) seed money set aside for the Digital Concierge project to develop these apps, the SingTel CEO could not confirm immediately.

The Digital Concierge project was launched with the intention to grow the local mobile services ecosystem with the delivery of personalized and location-based services, said the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) in an earlier ZDNet Asia report.

Lew also declined to reveal how much SingTel had invested in the development of the three apps. although he acknowledged that the Media Development Authority (MDA) gave SingTel some "innovation funds to seed [the development] of these apps".

He also added that the revenue model for these apps is "pure advertising", although he declined to disclose how much advertisers would have to pay SingTel to run their ads in the apps.

Mobile advertisers can play around with "multiple variables" such as the period they wish to run their ads for or which demographic of shoppers to target when they tap on the app platform, Lew said.

As for how the content within each app will be maintained and updated, the CEO said that for Property Buddy, the information will be culled directly from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) Web site.

SingTel will "take responsibility" for the running of the other two apps, but the day-to-day operations of these software will be managed by third-party firms that helped create the apps, he added.

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