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Jim Balsillie and John Stratton answer questions from developers at VDC
Verizon expects thousands of new apps that will be available to over 1 billion subscribers

The big buzz at the Verizon Developer Community conference was Verizon's eagerness to bring new applications to consumers. Verizon Wireless is very proud of its network, which it believes has far greater reliability and overall quality than AT&T's network. The challenge is capitalizing on this strength and generating additional revenue streams; the firm thinks it can do that by opening up its network and APIs so that new applications can be used.

Lowell McAdam, the Chief Executive Officer of Verizon Wireless, was particularly enthusiastic about machine to machine apps that businesses could use for a wide variety of tasks, such as inventory tracking with RFID tags. Verizon would provide backroom support and the infrastructure needed, thus reducing implementation costs for its customers.

He also spoke about Verizon's plans to launch its LTE (Long Term Evolution) network in early 2010. It will initially launch in the top 25 or 30 markets, with speeds as high as 50 Mb/s possible.

Executive Vice President John Stratton elaborated on the company's plans for a VCast app store which will open in the fourth quarter. The plan is for both a web portal as well as an on-device portal. He reiterated that Verizon wants to work with developers to speed up time to market for apps. Eventually, Verizon would like developers to be able to go from initial conception to market launch in less than 14 days.

The most exciting speech was from Jim Balsillie, the co-CEO of Research in Motion. Despite the success of the iPhone and its "There's an app for that" marketing campaign, the Blackberry Curve was the top selling phone for the first quarter. Blackberry subscribers are now evenly split between consumers and enterprise customers, so there is room for a wide variety of apps.

RIM sees voice communication as the first app, with voicemail, SMS, and email coming later and changing the way the phone was used. There is an opportunity to define the user's experience through apps and services. The two types of apps that RIM sees as having the most potential are location aware apps and contextualized apps.

Balsillie claimed that in speaking with 140 CIOs, mobility and wireless communications will be the largest investment for Fortune 500 companies. They will use these investments to drive productivity increases and enable greater access to information. As part of RIM's contributions to Verizon's app development efforts, Verizon's API's be made available through RIM's Blackberry SDKs.

Information privacy and data protection
will be important because to ignore it would alienate customers. Balsillie stated: "It's better to have 1000 customers love you than to have 100,000 like you. You can build a business out of love, but it’s hard to build one out of like".

Masayoshi Son, the Chairman of Softbank, focused his speech on the Joint Innovation Lab (JIL) program. Verizon Wireless is partnering up with Vodafone, Softbank, and China Mobile to develop a single platform for their combined subscriber base, which totals over a billion people. This means that developers will be able to develop an app and make it available worldwide very easily. Access to both handset and network functionality such as address book, camera, and location information will be available. JIL will expand to 2 billion or more subscribers over next several years.

Son expects that mobile computer capabilities will increase by 1,000 times over the next 10 years. Voice communications will become a small portion of apps on MIDs (Mobile Internet Devices). He believes that smartphones and MIDs will supplant the PC, given his own personal experiences. His internet usage increased 10x, but his PC usage decreased 90% since he is using his smartphone to surf the Internet most of the time.

Customer billing for apps would be through their home network, but developers would be able to get paid quickly. App developers will be able to set their own pricing and even give away apps for free.

Verizon Wireless provided airfare and accommodations to the VDC.





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