Fund aims to bolster Arabic apps industry
AppsArabia will address growing demand for local content on popular iPhone platform
Twofour54 has launched a new fund programme dedicated to Arabic application development on the Apple iPhone platform in a bid to nurture a strong mobile developer community in the region.
AppsArabia, by twofour54's business arm ibtikar, will invest in the most promising ideas for applications on the Apple iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.
"There's a great talent pool in the region. Part of our role is to help develop that talent and provide the right set of support mechanisms, be that mentoring and industry expertise, that allows them to fulfil that potential," said Wayne Borg, chief operating officer at twofour54. "We're hoping we'll unearth some entrepreneurial developers very soon."
David Ashford, general manager of AppsArabia, says that AppsArabia's focus on the iPhone OS platform is a matter of ‘prioritisation' considering the regional market.
"We know that nearly half a million iPhone units were sold in the Middle East and African regions in 2009, which is over a 1300% increase on the year before 2008. It's about prioritisation and clearly it's very sensible to focus on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad because the Apple ecosystem has proven itself as a commercially viable marketplace and, as we're seeing the devices grow very heavily here, it's something we want to harness," commented Ashford.
A new community website - www.appsarabia.com - has also been set up to serve as a support marketplace for everyone involved in mobile application development including entrepreneurs, designers, developers and clients.
Borg predicts that applications through AppsArabia will start appearing in the marketplace before the end of the year, with twofour54 taking an open-ended approach with the programme.
"As it (AppsArabia) progresses we'll take feedback, assess and review it, and make sure it is fulfilling its mandate of helping develop a sustainable Arabic apps industry," stated Borg. "Clearly Apple is a key platform, particularly for developers...but for us it's about all platforms - Nokia, BlackBerry and even Android, which is probably the preeminent one today."
"Arabic is the fifth largest spoken language in the world today. Looking at the adoption of mobile and smartphone technology in the region, in the UAE alone it stands at 200% and across the region it's somewhere close to 80-90% penetration of devices. When you compare that to the number of Arabic apps available...from our perspective, there's a huge opportunity in producing content for the people in the region," concluded Borg.