Rewarding the best mobile innovations

Rewarding the best mobile innovations

Are you the mBillionth mobile user? It is this figure that is driving mobile telephony companies to invest billions of dollars in the telecom sector in South Asia. An initiative to accelerate this process, and give it a socially relevant direction, was the mBillionth South Asia Awards 2010, which concluded last week in New Delhi.

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Presented by the department of information technology (DIT), Digital Empowerment Foundation and OnMobile, a provider of mobile value-added services (VAS), the awards offer a platform to bring together the best mobile content and applications with mass utility and social purpose.

“If the mobile platform is expected to be the next disruption in empowering masses...then the day of reckoning has come," said Osama Manzar, curator of the mBillionth Awards, founder of the Digital Empowerment Foundation and a jury member.

The awards, presented in Delhi on Friday, saw participation from five South Asian countries. The organization received more than 250 entries and 165 nominations were finally accepted: India–121, Sri Lanka–28, Bangladesh–seven, Pakistan–five, Nepal–three, and Maldives–one. Judged by a 14-member jury in Colombo, 24 winners took home the trophy in 10 categories.

The categories were m-Education and Learning, m-Inclusion, m-Governance, m-News and Journalism, m-Entertainment, m-Travel and Tourism, m-Business and Commerce, m-Health, m-Environment and m-Culture and Heritage.

The nominations were an eclectic mix of entrepreneurs from all sectors, community leaders and government officials.

“These applications are not replicas of any existing app, and each one of them is unique. Many of them were made by people who thought about the average citizen and what is accessible to them," said Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder and managing director of VAS provider One97 Communications (P) Ltd, also a member of the jury.

The awards ceremony saw participation by telecom companies, VAS developers, information and communication technology (ICT) entrepreneurs, investors, policymakers, experts and academics. The mobile congress was a brainstorming session providing food for thought for many participants and speakers.

As a precursor to the actual awards ceremony, a series of panel discussions and interactive sessions brought together nominees, policymakers, investors and telecom firms.

The underlying purpose of this mobile congress was to make recommendations to the government and industry in devising appropriate policies, applications and platforms. Most experts agreed that this was an integral step for development of the entire mobile phone ecosystem.

“We will push policies and advocate the cause of ICT in governance, development and citizen service delivery. Also, we’ll be submitting a white paper and policy paper for using mobile as the inclusive medium," said Manzar.