YourStory.in's Exclusive With Narendra Bhandari, Director, Intel - Asia Pacific

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Yourstory.in spoke to Narendra Bhandari, Director, Intel - Asia Pacific about the newly launched Intel AppUp Center and the latest app trends existing in the market today. Narenda shares some insights and tips for developers to consider, his understanding of this space and what will shape the future is phenomenal and we are happy to capture some of his observations.Excerpts of the Conversation (part 1 of 2):

Yourstory.in: Intel is looking to fund its app developers through it's developer program. This is broad based on the success of the app, but what criteria does Intel set in selecting which apps are to be funded? What compelling apps would developers need to go for?

Narendra Bhandari: We at Intel, fundamentally believe it is very hard to judge which app is going to be successful in the market. I don't think there is a formula to decide which the next Angry Birds, Flight Control or Bluebird, to quote a few, is going to be. These brand names were barely known a few years ago. What we do look for is some level of uniqueness and differentiation at least in the proposal and whether it will enhance the value of the platform. The larger message is we are giving people incentive to build both Windows and Meego applications which will then deploy on notebooks, PC's and netbooks through Intel’s app store - the Intel AppUp center. We promote Meego app building as we would eventually like to build a portfolio of Meego Apps on the Intel AppUp center.

The main criterion would be: What would we need? What is it that the store requires? A few years back, our general concerns were whether we had enough games on the store, or a cool e-reader, or news apps. We looked at general categories and expanded in that manner. On the Indian market, we look at the locally relevant applications as the criteria. We see whether the app is likely to drive more usage in thecountry. So, any app that strongly enhances the living of the general population will be strongly considered. The potential of the app and what it can do for the market is our concern, not what the app looks like or how it functions.

Yourstory.in: Intel has been pioneering in the MID space for quite a while, but there hasn't been a very visible strategy for mobile handsets. So, what is the road map for Intel in the mobile handset market?

Narendra Bhandari: Over the last one year, we have largely focussed on the netbook, notebook and PC platform. This is because, ultimately, developers have to make money from the applications they write. The biggest gratification for the developer is when people use it or pay for it according to the needs of the developer. We have looked at what we call in the market space as the volume platform since there are a billion odd PCs across the world and in the local market. That way, we talked to developers and started looking at the netbook platform which was an interesting segment and was ramping up last year in huge volume. Slowly, we now see those developers taking those netbook applications and porting them to notebook platforms. This creates a base of users who can potentially download and use it and the developers can make money out of it or gain recognition. We are timing all this on the basis of our product availability. Over the last months, we have been talking to developers and trying to get them interested to develop tablet applications or tablet style applications. We are also contacting developers who have successful regular PC applications and asking them port their app over to the tablet platform. Even brand new app development is being considered for the tablet platform. Smartphone volume, in our perspective will grow sometime next year. Today, we don't have a strong smartphone offering but with the work going on and once the volume grows, we will target and bring out more smartphone applications.

Yourstory.in: Is the inability to port the Intel Atom chip and architecture to the mobile handset space another reason for Intel delaying their foray into the mobile handset space?

Narendra Bhandari: Ultimately, we need to have a set of design wins from hardware companies using Intel silicon in the smartphone space. There is quite a lot of work going on in this regard and once public announcements are made, you will come to know about the various steps being taken.

Yourstory.in: Is Intel looking to collaborate with mobile handset vendors similar to the partnership established with Nokia which broke down in February?

Narendra Bhandari: Definitely. We are looking to collaborate with a lot of companies in the mobile handset space. Talks are being held in this regard and announcements will be made when talks come to fruition.

Yourstory.in: The Android support community is extremely large and technical help is readily available to the developer. The Meego community is much smaller and technical queries are not as readily answered. How is Intel planning to tackle this issue?

Narendra Bhandari: The community size is definitely proportionate to the number of devices out in the market at the moment. We are therefore, looking to promote the Meego platform among developers to start building applications. There are forums, SDKs, documentation available online on the website but the volume is a little limited as the Meego platform is slowly growing and is still in it's infancy even on the Global stage. Therefore, we are pushing both Windows and Meego platforms as Meego is relatively in the early stages. Both the Windows and Meego APIs are available online with extensive documentation for the Intel AppUp center SDK to help developers get started and start building applications. Adobe Air is also another platform available on the Intel AppUp developer program. Since 70% of the games online are Flash based, this really works to our advantage as this allows developers to port the online games to the Intel AppUp center to work on netbooks, notebooks and the PC platforms. There are very many downloads of these apps due to this very reason.

Yourstory.in: Continuing with the question, most developers complain about the lack of technical assistance and guidance during the application development stage and feel that this prevents them from producing highly popular and successful applications which will be a hit in the market. What kind of support do you provide for developers in such a situation?

Narendra Bhandari: Currently, we have zero fees. So, developers in any small city in any part of India who have basically just an internet connection and a PC in a shared cafe can start writing applications. There are also no validation costs. For a paid app, 70% of what the consumer pays comes back to the developer. In the journey from registering to actually submitting your app on the AppUp center, the developer usually comes across various hurdles which are generally technical, business or hardware in nature. For technical hurdles, our communities are reasonably active and our metric of that is that India is one of the strongest contributors to the Intel AppUp center with around 40% of the total contribution. We have managed this by conducting regular technical roadshows for the developers both general and specific to a topic. We have various various technical means to help out these developers for which they respond in such strong participation in the store. Access to hardware is another another major concern. We provide developers with netbooks and other hardware to test their applications and help in the building process. Many companies have access to our labs and also access to out key engineers who are intimately aware of our SDK. This kind of help is very helpful to all developers and also startups looking to develop apps on our platform.

Yourstory.in: The Intel AppUp Meego developer program is an online program. Does it eventually result in developers being provided with this kind of help and interaction?

Narendra Bhandari: The attention is a progression. People generally just begin by going online, registering and downloading the SDK. If the developer is capable of developing the app with minimum help, they have the luxury to do so. Generally, most developers go through a lot of hurdles and they come back to us in various different ways. We provide a lot of technical help and forums in every city to tackle this and help every developer in their journey.

 

Stay tuned for the second part of the interview with Narendra Bandari!

Do visit the IntelAppUp website for further details!

Also, do check out Intel TechSparks™ 2011 App4IndiaFinalists

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