Irish developers have a chance at leading the smart phone ‘Wave’

9 Mar 2010

Samsung Mobile has captured 20pc of the global market. Country manager Gary Twohig wants Irish app developers to vie for a share of the global US$2.7m apps competition.

The head of Samsung Mobile JK Shin said recently he wants smart phones, social media and apps available to everyone, regardless of age or income. Is this achievable?

That is certainly our intention. The apps market and smart-phone market is absolutely massive. Everyone in the mobile world is talking about apps and smart phones – that’s where it’s at. In fairness, the iPhone made the first inroads but access to its Apps Store is for a smaller percentage of the marketplace; people who are in a position to sign up for a longer term contract and pay for an expensive product.

So we reckon when apps get really exciting is when they are available to all people in the marketplace, all age groups and incomes, as well. That’s when the whole thing blows up in a massive way.

Samsung recognises this and our priority is to make smart phones available for everybody. The first product we’ll be announcing with our Samsung apps store will be the Wave, which launches in May this year throughout the world but very quickly after that we’ll be launching seven products this year with the Samsung App Store available on those products.

Some of those products will be hitting the €99 prepay market this year for the younger consumers who can download these apps, pay on their phones and get access to things they never could before.

How big a business opportunity do you think apps could be for Irish software developers?

At the end of the day, developers have got to earn their living and it is important that when they develop an application they have access to a marketplace that will make that app pay them back in effect.

If you look at the numbers, Samsung are a clear number two in the world. We are 20pc of the global sales of mobile phones – that’s 230m phones we sold in 2009 across the world. Our plans are to launch at least half of our devices this year with the Samsung Apps Store available on them.

That’s 115m handsets out there in the world with the Samsung Apps Store on them. So straight away the developer in Ireland has access to up to 115m people’s most important daily tool to sell their application over.

For somebody based in Ireland that is huge and that’s why the Bada developer platform is so important.

Samsung has put up a global prize fund of US$2.7m. What chance to Irish developers have to win a share of this?

We are hosting a Developers’ Day in Ireland on Thursday, 25 March, in the Dublin Mansion House. It is important to note that this Developers’ Day is happening in four places globally during March.

One is in London, one is in San Francisco, one is in Seoul in Korea where Samsung is headquartered, and the fourth one is in Dublin in Ireland. So I’m really excited about that. We’ll have our whole development team from head office flying over from Korea to support this day here in Dublin on 25 March.

It’s the largest prize fund as of yet for any development competition. Basically, there’s US$2.7m up for grabs and that’s shared across a number of different prizes. The overall winner will win US$300,000.

Those developers we’re dealing with here in Ireland, we want those developers to be putting forward their apps for this competition. The winners will be announced later in the year.

What the judges will be looking out for the most: uniqueness, creativity, whether it’s a commercially viable application, as well, and just general newness – is there a real market for that application?

The Wave promises to be a competitor to the iPhone and bookies are already taking bets on this. What is different about the Wave smart phone?

There’s a few striking things about the device when you pick it up and look at it. One is the device, it’s a very sleek, slim, stylish-looking device that Samsung is synonymous with. The other thing that will strike you is the screen, which is phenomenal.

We are using technology that we have from our TV background and putting that into the phone. It is a super AMOLED screen. There’s no other phone out there that has anything like this, the gaming experience, the movies you watch on the phone, it has a high-definition screen. It also has a 1Ghz app processor built into the phone.

Read more about the global US$2.7m apps competition online.

By John Kennedy

Photo: Gary Twohig country manager for Samsung Mobile Ireland

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years