Broadband World Forum Day 3

On Day 3 of the Broadband World Forum I ran the session “Aligning to Developer Needs, Using Developer Communities to Lead the Service Innovation Race”

2009 was the year of the app store and developer community.  In 2010 how are we doing as an industry? This session brings together the leading developer community managers with leading developers to frankly discuss what’s worked and how to improve upon what has been achieved.  I asked both Mark and Christophe to keep their presentations short so we could focus on a frank discussion between the operators and application developers.

The first presentation “Verizon’s Application Network Interface and Open Development Initiative” was given by Mark Hahn, Principal Member of Technical Staff, Verizon.  Presentation is shown below.

Verizon is working to tap into the innovative energy of their customers, suppliers, and partners; and to leverage the combined power of IMS, the Web, and attached devices/networks. They have defined an Application-to-Network Interface (ANI) to expose key enablers (location, presence, conference, profile, address book, etc.) such that they are easily incorporated by developers into innovative new services; examples include Verizon’s Open Development Initiative (ODI) and Verizon’s Developer Community (VDC).

Verizon’s later entry into the business of working with developers has enabled them to learn from many other operators’ mistakes.  So they’ve come in with better clarity, e.g. a 14 day approval process, and clear business models and processes.

The second presentation was “Case Study: Orange Partner” given by Christophe Francois, VP Multimedia Services.  Presentation is shown below.

Orange wants to play a stronger role in the applications eco-system. Its Orange Partner program is being reshaped to offer an end-to-end set of services and a comprehensive Toolbox combining various APIs for developers wanting to use the Orange Application Shop as a distribution channel for their apps.

Christophe emphasized the importance of localization and local marketing to address the problem with Apple App Store where apps get lost. They performed a wide customer survey to understand what customers want from applications, some of the concerns included security, available everywhere (no artificial divide between mobile and fixed broadband), easy discovery and simplicity in pricing & services.

The bulk of the session was devoted to a panel discussion: “What are Developers’ needs?

  • Why haven’t operator developer communities taken off like Apple or Android?
  • What should / can an operator do to change the situation?

Panelists included:

  • Varun Arora, Co-Founder and CEO of GotoCamera (last year’s winner of the InfoVision Award award)
  • Christophe Francois, VP Multimedia Services and head of Orange Partner
  • Sean O’Sullivan, CTO, Dial2do (this year’s winner of the InfoVision Award award)
  • Mark Hahn, Principal Member of Technical Staff, Verizon

In the discussion both Christophe and Mark were aligned to the challenges Sean and Varun discussed in their experiences of working with operators. They explaining how they’ve learned from mistakes made in the industry, and were very frank on what they can and cannot achieve given their current organization limitations around third party innovation. Though they’re not on par with the likes of Apple and Android, there is light at the end of the tunnel and a focus on what they can specifically do better for application developers.

Overall, the show maintained the momentum of the first day with interactive sessions and a busy show floor, particularly around the network equipment providers. Historically, the show has focused on the pipes, but as Olivier Baujard (Group CTO Deutsche Telekom) pointed out on the first day, for the customers its all about the services. There were excellent sessions on service and customer management, particularly from Emotum; but its definitely a show where the telecom software vendors should get more involved.