Mobile applications for the masses

Mobile applications for the masses

It was in the middle of last year that we decided to launch the mobile award as an advocacy and innovation reference platform, and named it mBillionth to work towards enabling mobile as a tool to make every critical content and service reach the bottom of the pyramid—the billionth person. With rigorous exercise across South Asia through various partnerships and help, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Consider this: We got more than 250 entries from South Asian countries. And the thorough screening still left us with 168 quality “nominations". Our 16-member grand jury selected the best we could have imagined, but I am not going to give you a countdown on the winners as the enthusiasm for 23 July’s Mobile Congress and Awards event in Delhi is contagious and we are loving it.

What is interesting, however, is the pattern of nominations in various categories and from different countries, which clearly sheds light on how we are doing in developing mobile content and application to reach the masses.

Nominations have been received from six countries. India contributed 121 nominations, followed by Sri Lanka at 28, Bangladesh at seven, and Pakistan at five. The three nominations from Nepal have excelled, and the solitary nomination from the Maldives was an oceanic surprise.

Coming to categories, m-Business and Commerce led with 36 nominations, followed by m-Inclusion at 26, m-Governance at 24, m-Entertainment at 20, m-News and Journalism at 18, m-Education at 13, m-Travel at 12 and m-Health at 10. We were disappointed that Culture and Heritage and Environment could not get any good nominations.

Clearly, there is a lot of work happening in exploiting entertainment, business and governance as far as mobile content and application development are concerned. What is worth noting is that most of the mobile content development work in the governance sector is happening in piecemeal, and it is mostly not scalable. It is at best at district level, and happening because of proactive district collectors and some individual visionary officers.

For example, “Many to One SMS" m-Governance application collates large volume of real time data related to the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and integrates it into an organized framework. The ministry of rural development, the nodal agency of the scheme, should look at this to scale up.

The “GPS/GSM-based Train Tracking System" is a train location tracking system for Sri Lanka railways department, aimed at delivering governance through the mobile platform—worth adopting by other countries in the region.

It is interesting how young companies are showing the way for large-scale content integration on mobile platforms. I have two examples: IMImobile’s DaVinci Content Management System (CMS) is an integral part of the DaVinci Content Delivery Platform and supports an array of content types to deliver value-added services supporting all consumer touch points, including the short messaging service (SMS), multi-media messaging service, Web, voice and video; and, OnMobile’s M-Search, an m-Entertainment music content search and delivery solution that works across voice, SMS and wireless application protocol (WAP) channels. M-Search could well be the future search engine on mobile across board—watch out.

The other big takeaway from mBillionth platform is that many young companies are not only developing great enabling applications for content delivery but contributing aggressively to creating further entrepreneurship in the sector by mentoring and creating a pool of funds to invest. For example, OnMobile, IMImobile and One97—all three have created either entities or divisions to fund new innovations, ideas and projects that could be disruptive and futuristic at the same time.

So finally, what we have done is partnered with the Internet and Mobile Association of India to create a mobile application developers (MAD) community. The MAD community is going to hold its first one-to-one meeting on 23 July, during the award ceremony, between investors and the those nominees of mBillionth whose innovations are on the ground and looking for fast growth and lots of mentorship.

The big plan under the MAD community is to create a pool of funds which could help through close association with seed ideas, innovations and start-up entrepreneurs—and that could be more in nature of mentorship, guidance and funding that would not really be investment, but support without any expectation of financial return. We hope to make the industry work in tandem with potential ideas to integrate into large-scale deployment, especially which could reach volume—mobile for masses!

Osama Manzar is founder and director of Digital Empowerment Foundation and chairman of the mBillionth awards.

Mint is a partner of the mBillionth awards.

For more details of nominees, nominee profiles and themBillionth awards, log on to

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