To launch ‘App Economy Baseline Study’ this year, findings expected by Q1 2014
Third iteration of ICON app developer programme to have distinct enterprise app focus
THE Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) has set its sights on enterprise app market opportunities, announcing that the latest iteration of its app developer programme will focus on such apps and that it would also be conducting a baseline study of the market in Malaysia.
Noting that the consumerisation of technology or bring our own device BYOD) trend was escalating, its chief executive officer Badlisham Ghazali said this was creating opportunities for “app developers to meet the broader needs of not only small businesses but larger enterprises.”
“Mobile app revenue was huge last year, but that’ll be nothing compared to where it’s expected to go by 2016 … [when it] will reach an estimated US$46 billion, according to ABI Research,” he said, adding that the figure includes pay-per-download, in-app purchases, subscriptions and advertising.
“This will certainly open up new job markets and areas for development which Malaysia can certainly take full advantage of in our drive to become a developed digital economy by 2020,” he said in a speech when announcing the launch of MDeC’s third Integrated Content Development Programme (ICON3).
MDeC also cited a Garner Inc study which predicted that by 2017, 25% of enterprises will have an enterprise app store for managing corporate-sanctioned apps on PCs and mobile devices. Industry analysts and pundits have also described the enterprise app opportunity as a ‘white space’ that more Malaysian developers should look into.
“The enterprise application sector while new, is already distinguishing itself from the consumer market,” Badlisham said. “In the business world, applications are currently being designed to not only serve one specific purpose but to form a part of a larger ecosystem aimed at enhancing operational efficiency and achieving overall business goals.”
“As a result, CEOs and key decision makers are beginning to think more about the role of apps in their overall business strategy. Apps are no longer just for smartphones or mobile devices. They are essential tools of the business’s overall communications and collaboration systems,” he added.
With that market opportunity in mind, Malaysia’s national ICT custodian said it would launch an ‘App Economy Baseline Study’ to determine how developed the market is and how many apps have been developed by Malaysians. The study would be launched this year and its findings are expected to be ready by the first quarter of 2014.
When asked how much would be spent on the study and which company would be commissioned to conduct it, Badlisham said that MDeC was currently in the procurement process, speaking to firms that can possibly conduct the needed research.
“We’re also talking to the ecosystem players to get feedback on what other aspects of the app economy need to be studied,” he said in a press conference following the launch. “Once we have a baseline, then we will know what else we can do to spur growth.”
ICON3’s enterprise focus
The ICON programme was introduced in 2009 to get Malaysian developers to create apps, primarily focused on consumer and education markets. It had two main thrusts: ICONapps for individuals and ICONdap for companies.
ICONapps was focused on getting fresh graduates and new developers to pitch ideas, and subsequently get the training to develop their ideas into actual apps. ICONdap was aimed at funding content developers to create ideas into proofs-of-concept.
The first programme, which ended in 2010, saw 1,100 individuals trained on app development, out of which, 221 successfully completed advanced training in iOS and Android platforms. Following this, MDeC approved financial grants to 60 projects, which saw the creation of 180 jobs and 96 mobile apps.
“The success of the first ICON programme prompted MDeC to launch ICON2 in July 2011, which resulted in even greater achievements, with a total of 307 apps deployed in the Apple, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone app stores,” said Badlisham (pic).
ICON3 will provide industrial training to participants, focusing on advanced skills including backend server management as well as cloud computing.
To this end, MDeC is partnering with industry players such as BlackBerry, Celcom-Axiata, DiGi, ECS-ICT, Microsoft and Nokia; as well as various government agencies and even universities such as Swinburne, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.
According to Wan Murdani Wan Mohamad, director of Digital Enablement at MDeC, ICON3 will focus on enterprise apps, but would still be open to apps and ideas targeting the consumers.
The government agency is targeting to train more than 400 developers and see through 20 projects in the latest programme, which goes live Sept 1, “out of which we hope at least half will be for enterprise apps,” he said.
Wan Murdani noted that out of the hundreds of apps developed in the first two ICONs, “only about 10 were business apps that could rightly be categorised as enterprise apps.”
He also said that MDeC had disbursed RM4 million (about US$1.3 million) worth of grants for the first two ICONs, and has allocated RM3 million for ICON3.
According to MDeC, the previous programmes had exceeded their revenue target of RM100,000. Wan Murdani said no overall revenue target has been set for the latest iteration.
“However, we aim to generate at least 20% more revenue per developer,” he added.
ICON3 was officially launched by Deputy Minister of Communications and Multimedia Jailani Johari, who said in his speech that Malaysians currently spend over RM4.5 billion (US$1.4 billion) annually on smartphones and mobile devices.
“ICON3 will empower developers to move up the value chain to focus on applications for enterprises, while further accelerating the growth of the mobile app industry in Malaysia,” he said.
Jailani said that that ICON3’s focus on enterprise apps would not only create more high-value professional job opportunities for Malaysians, but also enable Malaysian developers and industry players “to carve a niche.”
Meanwhile, Badlisham said that ICON3’s enterprise app focus would be aimed primarily at serving the needs of the domestic market, while not necessarily ignoring global opportunities.
“There are multiple opportunities within the local market, and we want to see enterprises here – which include public sector organisations – take advantage of apps to boost their productivity as well,” he said, describing it as a ‘win-win’ situation for both the developer and user communities.
“Let’s serve those interests first,” he added.
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