ICON driving developers to think big
By Karamjit Singh May 16, 2012
- 1,115 participants trained since program launched in 2009
- But it’s not just about the numbers, says trainer
WHILE providing an update on the RM5-million 2nd Integrated Content Development Program (ICON2) last Friday, May 11, Multimedia Development Corporation Sdn Bhd CEO Datuk Badlisham Ghazali told journalists he was not sure if there was going to be an ICON3.
But Bikesh L (pic), CEO of iTrain Sdn Bhd, the appointed Training Provider for ICON2 participants, is adamant in his belief that the program must go on. “Definitely,” he says.
It has less to do with the numbers from ICON2, which gave funding of between RM50,000 and RM200,000 to successful applicants and which saw 69 apps introduced to the iTunes and Android App Store. Rather it stems from his belief that the program has encouraged Malaysian app developers to be more bold in their thinking and grand in their ambitions when creating apps.
“The growth in the developers from ICON1 to ICON2 has been incredible and some of their app ideas have been fantastic,” he says.
He points to the top app from ICON2, ARMS F&B, a restaurant point-of-sale system which has garnered 2,000 downloads, generating RM14,750 in revenue.
“The entrepreneur in question here, Tan Yin See, really pushed the boundaries in terms of what the iOS can do and Apple loves these types of entrepreneurs,” says Bikesh.
Tan was in the typical POS (point-of-sales) business when he decided to expand his POS by using the iPAD as the hardware instead of the typical POS hardware we all see in restaurants and stores.
Inspired to take the risk of developing his idea, thanks to the financial support from ICON2, Tan worked on his idea for four months and managed to integrate his app into the iPad.
The end result has been market success.
“He is definitely selling his app too cheaply,” laughs Bikesh, adding, “but that is the nature of the app market.”
Tan himself acknowledges the value of the ICON2 program. “It is giving developers such as myself an avenue to create and market products for the global market. This leg-up into the industry and global market will certainly help in putting Malaysia on the map in mobile developments,” he says.
Coupled with the early success of ARMS F&B and the rest of the 68 apps developed, MDeC anticipates they will hit a combined revenue of RM100,000 in revenue by the end of 2012.
It may not seem like a lot, especially when Badlisham reveals that MDeC has invested RM1.5 million to train interested applicants for ICON2 who want to have their own mobile apps. But the impact of the program goes much deeper than just the revenue gained as the entrepreneurs receive a lot of coaching too, which is invaluable, and they develop their network with other app developers to create a community that will support each other.
They also pick up invaluable experience from the success and failure of their own apps and can pass these priceless lessons on to others, besides being better equipped themselves for their next attempt at building a world-class app.
To recap, as part of ICON2, the ICON Developer Assistance Programme (ICONdap) platform provides funding assistance to technical gurus, creative geniuses, as well as individuals and organizations with innovative ideas and concepts.
The funding aims to turn those ideas into prototypes and actual products that work on various online and mobile platforms.
Participants of ICONdap had until the end of 2011 to develop their best ideas into marketable world-class products. Once these ideas were approved and turned into actual apps, the products were matched with the relevant business specialists, angels and venture capitalists to take their product to market.
“The ICON platform continues to play a key role in turning Malaysia into a content creator and animator. Furthermore, greater emphasis has also been given on the quality of the content and applications. This is in line with MSC Malaysia’s long-term strategy of honing local talents to create practical and creative solutions that appeal to the global market at large,” says Badlisham.
Bikesh agrees, saying the focus should hereon be on the content and not the platform. “The platforms will change but what will always remain important is the content.”
Since the launch of the first ICON initiative in 2009, 1,115 participants have been trained under the program.
Some of the mobile applications that have been developed through ICON2 to date include:
- NightMarkets – a comprehensive list of the night markets (pasar malam) found all over Malaysia, including their day and time.
- TryMasak - Malaysia’s biggest online cooking and food video app where you can watch cooking videos in a simple, ‘no-frills' and straight-forward way to help you prepare the recipes of your choice. These include simple and quick to prepare dishes to more meticulously prepared traditional recipes.
- Islands of Malaysia - A comprehensive guide covering over 20 stunning islands in Malaysia including a list of resorts and their prices, tourist attractions and outdoor activities.
- My First Iqra’ – An educational app for teaching children how to read the Quran in the well established Iqra’ method. Has between 10,000 and 15,000 downloads. The entrepreneur even took the initiative to create a paid version. An iOS version is coming soon in the form of an iBook.
- Ah Long Attack – A fun tactical game with a Malaysian setting.
- EcoMonster – Built by a group of Multimedia University students. Started off as a paid download. When they released it as a free version, it got over 20,000 downloads just from China. They are now working on a follow-up.