Yahoo! may have been making headlines with its eleven acquisitions over the last year and the constant media attention its CEO, Marissa Mayer attracts, but it has also been busy nurturing new mobile app developments.
The internet giant recently hosted its sixth ‘hackathon’ in India at Hyderabad attracting 250 participants selected from over 1,000 applications that came from 20 states across the country. For a country expecting to pass 300 million mobile phone users by 2015 and a developer community exceeding 2 million it’s no surprise that Yahoo! is encouraging this type of event there.
And it was not let down with the results. The grand prize winners created a mobile app named PlanMan! that lets one do workflow management through SMS and missed calls. It takes inputs from any type of mobile device and is targeted towards a small group or company wanting to schedule their daily tasks.
However, another app that tracks the online behaviour of children snatched the headlines and may just be the answer for many concerned parents worldwide. For parents worried about what’s on their children’s mind, the app tracks their behaviour via their SMS traffic to friends and creates an emotional score that is sent to the parents. The app was written by two locally based Oracle technical staff.
Now, before the howls of privacy being compromised are voiced, we are talking about child/parent relationships and the mobile numbers must be registered. No actual messaging information is sent, the app simply determines an ‘emotional’ score and sends that out. The higher the score the more disturbed the child is supposed to be.
"This year, we expected hackers to build experiences with a mobile- first approach, focusing on high impact apps and dynamic mobile web experiences that people are excited to use every day," said Hari Vasudev, Vice President and Head of Yahoo! India R&D. He wasn’t disappointed. By nurturing the talents of local programmers and encouraging them to think outside the usual ‘corporate’ box, Yahoo! may just find the next ‘killer’ app without having to pay millions in acquiring it.
For those involved, it gives them an opportunity to meet with other budding app creators in a collaborative and competitive environment. Nanda Kumar, CEO of the large solutions software company, SunTec, based in Trivandrum said, “This is a fantastic way to foster the creative and entrepreneurial talents of one of India’s best assets – it’s software developers. It’s great to see international giants like Yahoo! recognize the talents we have known about for years and help take their apps into the international arena.”