Nokia in Thai University Training Deal

Finnish mobile-phone giant Nokia is committed to building a local developer and mobile ecosystem in Thailand with the launch of an initial programme with three universities.

This is the phone-maker’s latest move towards building up a local mobile ecosystem, following a collaborative deal with mobile operators in Thailand that uses operator billing to help local software developers to easily monetize their applications.

Nokia’s head of developer relations for Southeast Asia and the Pacific Gary Chan said the multinational company was committed to building and supporting a mobile ecosystem in Thailand under its latest worldwide strategy.

Nokia’s principal smart-phone strategy is a move to use the Windows Phone platform, and it plans to begin shipping these devices in volume early next year. The framework for developers will therefore be the Windows Phone ecosystem, with tools provided by both Microsoft and Nokia.

“Nokia is joining in the development of the Windows Phone ecosystem. We will contribute the Ovi Map and our strong relationship with operators around the world. We also expect to be involved in hardware design and development.

“We hope that this collaboration will create a third mobile ecosystem to compete against the Apple and Android ecosystems, and importantly to give consumers and operators wider choices,” Chan said.

The Windows Phone ecosystem will eventually replace the Symbian open-source platform in Nokia smart phones, although Nokia is committed to supporting Symbian until 2014. In this time, Nokia is expected to give the Symbian platform improved browsing technology and a new user interface.

“Symbian will continue to be relevant at least until 2013,” Chan said. “We are committed to getting 75 million Symbian smart phones that are touch-enabled on to the market. We are also committed to ship 150 million more Symbian devices. This offers huge opportunities for very quick application development with [cross-platform application framework] Qt.”

Chan said Nokia planned to make sure that at least one MeeGo device reached the market. MeeGo is an open-source environment that is also used in embedded systems, tablet form factors, and auto instrument systems.

“We are continuing to explore bringing Qt into other price points and other devices. We will continue to invest in the Qt ecosystem,” Chan said.

He said Nokia was now focusing on “the next billion people” who currently do not have mobile phones. There are around 3.7 billion mobile phones in the market, of which about 1.5 billion are unable to access the Web. There are also about 3.2 billion people around the world who do not own mobile phones, he said. Nokia’s mission is to enable the next billion people to own mobile phones and to access and experience the Internet via a mobile device.

The solutions are Nokia’s S40 Java platform, which the company is continuing to research and develop in order to improve it in areas such as touch and type, and the new Ovi browser that allows users to surf the Web very efficiently in countries where there is no 3G network.

Chan said the Ovi Store was very successful in Thailand because of demand for localised content and integration with local operators, including AIS, DTAC and True.

“Operator-billing integration provides 60 per cent of gross revenue from sales of applications to the developer after local tax sales. We have found that this model helps developers to make a lot of money. We launched this model in Thailand in October last year,” he said.

Nokia’s latest move is to team up with three universities – Assumption University, Chiang Mai University and Chulalongkorn University – to support the Thai mobile ecosystem. The collaborative arrangement will use a Nokia programme called “Tap That App”. It is claimed to be the first 360-degree project in the mobile industry that enhances the competitiveness of Thai application developers.

Chan said the collaboration opened opportunities for university students to create their own application ideas and turn them into real mobile apps for consumers to download from Ovi Store.

In conjunction with the three universities, Nokia will set up “Mobile Inno Sphere Centres” at each university to serve as excellence platforms from which students can participate in the development of innovative mobile applications and services and gain real-life industry experience.

The centres will allow students to learn and discover what mobile innovation can do to improve and change lifestyles. Students and academics at the three universities will be trained in developing innovative applications by Nokia trainers, using Web and application-development frameworks such as Qt, Java and Windows Phone. After the training, students will be encouraged to submit their ideas, and the most innovative will be chosen for development, to be made available for public download from the Ovi Store.

The programme will also provide opportunities for profiles of local developers to appear in global markets through Ovi Store. Eventually, the programme is expected to create a new and competitive generation of young Thai developers who will raise the competency of the Thai application industry.

“Through our partnerships with local developers, publishers, mobile operators and academic institutions, we will contribute to the creation of an ecosystem that drives innovation, provides useful and delightful user experiences for consumers and opens greater commercial opportunities for the Thai mobile ecosystem,” Chan said.

The Tap That App programme will run until December this year in Thailand. The same programme has also been implemented in other Southeast Asian countries, including Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines.

Phone giant plans ‘innovative ecosystem’ in Thailand


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