MDeC now aims ICON program at Windows Phone 8, with Nokia’s help
By A. Asohan January 10, 2013
- Pitching begins in a month, top 100 app ideas to enjoy training, mentorship and Nokia marketing’s muscle
- Nearly 300 apps developed in first two ICONs, garnering a total of 650,000 downloads, says MDeC
THE Multimedia Development Corporation’s (MDeC) third iteration of its ICON (Integrated Content Development) program to foster the development of local mobile app content will focus on Microsoft Corp’s new Windows Phone 8 platform, in partnership with Nokia.
MDeC, the national ICT custodian which also oversees the MSC Malaysia project, launched the first ICON initiative in 2009, followed by ICON2 in 2010, which focused on Google Inc’s Android and Apple Inc’s iOS platforms.
The new joint collaboration will offer customized training and community support to up to 100 ICON developers to help them learn about the Windows Phone 8 platform and build a knowledge base for technical expertise, MDeC and Nokia said on Jan 9.
Nokia will also offer these 100 developers its Nokia Premium Developer Program (NPDP), which will provide them with tools and services, including free cloud hosting and developers’ accounts on Microsoft’s Windows Store, worth US$1,500, said Gary Chan, Nokia Pan Asia head of marketing (pic above, left).
“These include controls and APIs (application programming interfaces) that can help them accelerate their development process,” he said, adding that Nokia would introduce new monetization and analytics capabilities such as in-app purchasing and advertising, and the Nokia Ad Exchange.
Nolia does not have an in-app commerce engine, Chan said, but noted that Microsoft, unlike Google and Apple, allows third-party platforms to be used with its Windows Store. “These developers will be free to use any engine they want – neither Nokia nor MDeC will be getting a revenue share of any apps they create,” he said.
The ICON developers’ apps will also be prominently featured in Nokia’s advertising material, retail channels, events and roadshows, and will also be included in a dedicated collection in the ‘App Highlights’ preloaded on all Nokia Lumia devices in Malaysia.
“We’re going to open up as many channels as we can to make sure Malaysian developers get all the exposure they need to drive their business forward,” Chan promised.
This particular version of ICON will be inviting online submissions in about a month, after which the top 100 app ideas will be shortlisted for joint training and mentorship to be conducted by both Nokia and Microsoft. The developers then have three months to develop their app.
When asked how Nokia is going to attract developers to the Windows Phone 8 platform, Chan acknowledged that it has a relatively low market share compared with Android and iOS. “But we believe that Windows Phone 8 will present an unprecedented opportunity for developers in 2013.
“There are 150,000 apps developed for the previous version, Windows Phone 7.5, which can run on Windows Phone 8 with no modification,” he claimed.
“It shares the same kernel and core as Microsoft’s new Windows 8 operating system for desktops, laptops and tablets. (Microsoft CEO) Steve Ballmer said he expects 400 million devices to be running on the Windows 8/ Windows Phone 8 platform this year.
“This is not a brand-new ecosystem,” he added. “We expect it to be a significant third mobile platform after Android and iOS.”
The new ICON program was announced in conjunction with the local launch of Nokia’s Lumia 620, which would retail for RM799. “Malaysia is one of the first markets in the world to roll it out,” said Chan.
ICON was first conceived to encourage and facilitate the creation of local mobile apps by developing capacity and building the ecosystem for local developers to enter the global apps market, said MDeC chief operations officer Ng Wan Peng (first pic above, center).
The first ICON from 2009 to 2010 saw 1,100 individuals exposed to the basic knowledge of app development, out of which 221 developers successfully completed the advanced training in iOS and Android platforms. MDeC approved financial grants to 60 projects, which saw 180 jobs created and 96 mobile apps created, she added.
“For the first phase, we focused on community and educational apps,” said Ng. “For ICON2, we opened it up to any kind of app, and we got much higher response.”
ICON2 offered a two-tier structure. The lower-tier, ICONapps, targeted fresh graduates and new developers who were ready to pitch ideas to create mobile apps. As at the end of 2012, a total of 200 developers have successfully pitched their ideas and more than 80 mobile apps have been created and marketed in both iOS and Android stores, according to MDeC.
The upper-tier, ICONdap, is aimed at funding online and mobile content developers to create ideas into a proof-of-concept, thus encouraging entrepreneurship. So far, MDeC has approved funding for 20 projects, out of which two have been completed whilst the rest will be completed in stages by the first quarter of 2013, MDeC added.
It’s not just the numbers of apps being developed, said Wan Murdani Wan Mohamad (first pic above, right), director of the Digital Enablement Division at MDeC, adding that ICON apps through the two initiatives have enjoyed a total of 650,000 downloads.
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