Calling the developer community the cornerstone of mobile innovation, Steve Elfman, president, Network Operations & Wholesale, outlined Sprint’s “Open” approach and encouraged developers to create applications that work not only on Sprint’s most dependable 3G network,1 but across the industry. Elfman delivered today’s keynote address at Sprint’s 2009 Open Developer Conference – its ninth annual application developer conference.
Elfman outlined the key tenets of Sprint’s Open approach:
* Let consumers determine the application winners
* Be easy to do business with
* Create a developer’s “Garage” where new innovation happens
* Use the proven Open Internet model as a guide
* Support is best performed by the creators of the content
* Open still requires management
Sprint Listens to Developers
“Sixty-five percent of U.S. wireless consumers already are using some form of wireless data services,”2 Elfman said. “The popularity of smartphones and the Internet access and applications they provide are here to stay. We recognize the important role that developers play in a mobile environment. Sprint wants developers to be successful and profitable. We understand that their innovation is good for the mobile consumer, business and government services and our industry as a whole.”
Application Development Addresses Voice Services and Data
Voice services continue to play a central role in mobile communications, even as data grows. Application developers have created a number of voicemail and messaging services that take advantage of call forwarding capabilities. Sprint announced today that it will not charge customers for certain types of call forwarding. Conditional call forwarding for busy calls or calls not answered using the customer’s wireless phone will be free, beginning mid-November. (Standard charges will continue to apply for immediate call forwarding.)3 This change will give Sprint customers the opportunity to access third-party voice services, including the new voicemail feature in Google VoiceTM.
Google Voice lets users manage and control their voice communications and comes with a suite of voicemail and text messaging features. On Monday, Google announced it will offer a Google Voice feature that allows mobile phone users to take advantage of Google Voice without having to sign up for a Google Voice phone number. Further illustrating its open, collaborative approach, Sprint is working with Google to develop additional functionality to support services such as Google Voice that will deliver an even richer experience to Sprint customers.
"We're excited Sprint customers will be able to take advantage of Google Voice voicemail with their mobile phones. We look forward to continuing this relationship and working closely with Sprint in the future," said Bradley Horowitz, vice president of Product Management at Google. "Free call forwarding and Sprint's Open approach create more opportunities for developers, large and small, to build innovative and useful applications."
Sprint encourages application development that can run across various networks, but also recognizes that the network is a differentiator in how well an application works. The data speed, reliability and ubiquity of the Sprint Network are key elements in enabling an application to run at its best. According to a recent PC World report, Sprint tested as the most reliable network overall among U.S. carriers in a 13-city performance test.4 PC World’s test results provide further support for Sprint’s “most dependable 3G network” claim. The average of Sprint Rev A download speeds reported by the Boy Genius readers was the fastest amongst the major national wireless carriers.5 In addition, Sprint is the only national wireless carrier to have launched a 4G network. Sprint 4G is currently available in 17 markets across the country.
Devices, operating systems and ease-of-use for the customer play important roles in the performance of an application. A critical aspect in making those applications richer is the level of interaction/exposure to the network and IT APIs (application programming interfaces) that a developer can gain. Sprint provides more collaborative tools and access than any other carrier, with more than 300 APIs exposed for developers and a developer sandbox that will be offering access to 4G as well as 3G tools. In 2009 Sprint has launched or announced an extensive line of devices that allow developers full access to their capabilities (two Android™ devices, two Palm® webOS™ devices, and multiple Windows Mobile and RIM Blackberry devices).
While consumer applications receive a lot of attention in popular advertising, sophisticated applications that enhance productivity and cut costs are in high demand by enterprise, business and government services.
“To take our applications to the next level, we’re going to have to have open APIs made available for developers like ourselves,” said Andy Baldocchi, senior vice president, Sales and Business Development, FunMobility. “We must get really creative to get successful applications in the market. It could be a billing API which allows for flexible billing applications or an API that accesses the messaging stack on a phone, or it could be location-based APIs. And Sprint is delivering the developer tools more quickly than anyone else.”
Sprint’s Open Approach Stimulates Creativity, Innovation
Sprint’s leading open approach is paying dividends for developers and innovation. This month Sprint received the Frost & Sullivan 2009 Award for Product Line Strategy in the North American Mobile Resource Management (MRM) Market. Frost & Sullivan identified the TeleNav Vehicle ManagerTM as an example of Sprint’s focus on collaboration with application developers to create a unique, all-in-one fleet management service featuring specialized GPS capabilities and vehicle diagnostics. The award-winning TeleNav Vehicle Manager collaboration is supported by Sprint’s platform enablers program for developers.
The Open Developer Conference is fostering learning about engaging with platform enablers as well as enterprise M2M business solutions, approaches to make developers more profitable, 4G technical/development resources and more. The conference also is delivering valuable insights and support from a strong cross-section of leading mobile platforms, from Android and Palm webOS to Java ME, RIM and Windows Mobile, and providing hands-on coding sessions, breakout sessions, event sponsor exhibits and networking opportunities for developers.
1 Dependable based on independent, third-party drive tests for 3G data connection success, session reliability, and signal strength for the top 50 most populous U.S. markets (including PR) from January 2008 to July 2009. Not all services available on 3G and coverage may default to separate network when 3G unavailable.
2 U.S. Wireless Data Market Q2 2009 Update, Chetan Sharma Consulting, Aug. 2009
3 Although no charges will be applied for conditional call forwarding (meaning busy calls or calls not answered), some Sprint customers may incur a $0.20 per-minute charge if they choose to forward calls directly into voicemail or to another number without first allowing the call to try to reach the number and getting a busy signal/no answer. This is called unconditional call forwarding (immediate).
4 PC World’s tests included 13 major cities with more than 20 tests per city from all regions of the country during a two-month period (March and April 2009). In all, 5,443 individual tests from 283 testing locations were conducted for each provider’s 3G service. Testing was one minute in duration, and network performance can be highly variable from neighborhood to neighborhood. The 13 cities were Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Denver, New Orleans, New York, Orlando, Phoenix, Portland, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco and Seattle. Sprint won for reliability in Boston, Chicago, Denver, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle. Sprint tied for reliability in Orlando.
5 Boy Genius Report 3G network speed results based on self-reported reader speed tests shared on boygeniusreport.com as of Aug. 21, 2009.