Airtel’s Open Developer Community- AODC

13 07 2009

If you have read ET on 10th July, this one Telecom news stood apart & perhaps it would have wider implications in coming months on Indian Telecom Industry. Airtel, India’s biggest telecom operator by subscriber base, hired approx 1000 developers to form an Application Developer community (Independent) called ‘Airtel Open Developer Community (AODC)’, which will develop applications for Airtel’s 100million+ subscribers across Mobile, TV, DTH etc services.

As per Economic Times report, Bharti will be providing a Software Development Kit (Read Java SDK), the main set of tools to write applications to AODC members, along with training to build applications across three screens- TV, Mobile & PC.  This all will happen irrespective of devices used by consumers. Though Vodafone runs such an independent software development community called Betavine, Airtel’s attempt to set up such community in India is first one by any major Telco.

Why I am excited about this development? Perhaps, it opened a new paradigm shift for IT + Telecom development in coming years, on mass scale. Secondly, it would create differentiation for Airtel in market place along with value addition to its portfolio (Read VAS). Third, there is good chance of grabbing new revenue sources by developing new applications for subscribers (device independent software development- Open Source), besides improving customer perception towards Brand Airtel. This business model will entirely rely on customer centric approach. So sooner, you might visit Airtel’s nearby showroom to download paid/free application developed by AODC (just like they do in Apple’s Store in US)

What should you expect from such community? Though I tried to search on about AODC, there are no official updates available as of now. We will have to wait for details, but one thing is clear, Airtel is pushing hard towards realization of its vision of becoming most admired brand of India in coming few years.  This is one such attempt, after launch of Airtel’s Innovation Fund ( in last year September, which will give long term benefits in terms of both, growth & development.

Now the industry first movers namely Apple & Google who devised this strategy have benefited heavily earlier. If you ask me, why Palm Pre on Sprint, which is earlier touted as iPhone killer by many, failed to generate momentum? Pre had very few applications running on their device as compared to Apple’s strong community of developers who already developed more than 50000+ applications for iPhone (Refer iPhone Blogs) ( Though only 2000+ are free applications). It simply adds value to user experience and attracts large user base. Same is true for Google Android development. Besides cost benefits it added great value in your portfolio in terms of applications. Perhaps in coming months, Android will drive NGN mobile industry.

Yesterday, I got hands on Samsung’s Android phone, Galaxy. To my surprise, Samsung which will be launching nearly eight phones in the array, in India (Touch to Pixon, Omnia- Few are launched already), only Galaxy is Android powered. Initially accessing on Galaxy appeared slow, but still its worth to bet on Android phones than Symbian (Nokia Driven) ( Again applications advantage).  But there were few takers to it too, partly because of unawareness. Samsung, the number two mobile device manufacturer in the world is eating up Smart phone segment shares of Nokia & LG very fast.

Now last part of story is about 3G subscriber numbers of MTNL.  Business Standard last month reported that MTNL could grab only 400+ subscribers for its 3G service called ‘Jadoo’. Not surprising, first movers will always have new challenges to face. This partially shows that 3G adaptation in India might take longer time than expected. Though it is true that initially services offered on 3G platform were costly, now MTNL is trying to make it affordable with wide variety of schemes for 3G users. Perhaps, new marketing strategy of cost reduction of new 3G SIM cards might help MTNL to achieve its said target for ‘Jadoo’. Wait & Watch!


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