Aug 22 - 28, 2011

Accessing handheld devices on the go has become a common practice in the developed as well as developing countries. From making a purchase and buying a ticket to museum to observing climatic conditions and managing remote location employees, partners, and clients, mobile and smart phones are performing all tasks like cakewalk because of easy to use mobile apps.

The new mobile trends in the developed countries are though being slowly transferred to developing Asia particularly developing south Asia, new vista of economic opportunities has been wide open for their IT skilled professionals.

Development of mobile apps is emerging as new potential-laden avenue in South Asia with technological companies and investments companies eyeing on software engineering houses in the region to meet the growing demands of convenience applications.

South Asia is itself a flourishing mobile users market with more than one billion mobile phone users. Within next five years, the numbers of people accessing internet on mobile handsets will increase significantly, anticipated information and communication technology agency (ICTA). "The mobile markets in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Maldives would fuel this growth," according to ICTA.

Global mobile apps market is expected to reach $7.3 billion in 2011, $14.1 billion by 2012, and $36.7 billion by 2015, according latest market intelligence by Canalys

The IT skilled forces in the region are attracting web and mobile solution providers in Europe and US that are experiencing spurts in usage of smart phones-alternative in many ways to desktops-to take their services for mobile applications development and programming.

US and Europe remain the markets where monetization of apps is highest despite gigantic growth of 250 per cent in apps downloading in China. However, mobile users in China or generally Asia prefer to download applications free of cost, observe analysts.

Apple's OS apps are rocking the mobile world as iPod and iPhone users are galloping in apps from App store.

The US-based web and mobile solution provider launched iPhone Developer Programme to promote development of mobile content for its phones. The App store is receiving contributions from hundreds of thousands of mobile content developers from around the world.

Unfortunately, the stats from Pakistan are not available, yet IT experts assume that several software houses and individual coders and designers are putting forward contributions to the App store and monetizing apps.

Apart from complicated apps such as forex information, breaking news alerts, and cricket updates, which require resources and value added skills, simple applications and games are wholesomely developed in the country, they said. The mobile content development is a resourceful task and without coordinated efforts and adequate resources standalone technical geeks cannot come up to the international standard in developing rich mobile contents, they commented.

The mobile content development can play a catalytic role in perking up entrepreneurship, promoting self-employment, and build ICT field of the country. As far as self-employment is concerned, IT graduates can earn money by creating apps and content for various mobile environments. For example, IT companies in Lahore and Karachi are developing kid's stories and ecommerce apps for iPhone and raking in foreign exchange for the country.

Unbelievingly rich mobile apps are being developed and in use in India. A remote irrigation controller mobile app has changed the water management techniques in the underdeveloped farm sector in the country. A feat by college graduates, the app enabled farmers to switch on and off their modem-installed motors in the fields through sending SMS. This gets rid them of trudging all the way to the fields in midnight.

India is big market with immense opportunities in IT and telecom. The World Bank said it is the second largest wireless market of the world and witnessing addition of eight to nine million mobile phone subscribers on monthly basis.

To maintain its position in the international market, Indian government is encouraging mobile app development and programming. The worth emulating is its use of mobile as a powerful tool of empowering its poor population economically and socially particularly its rural and traditionally undeserved communities. In Sri Lanka too, IT graduates are earning substantial monthly incomes on the back of mobile apps programming and development. A university student earns more than Rs200,000 per month, said Dumindra Ratnayake, CEO, Etisalat Sri Lanka.

Handheld devices include smart phones, tablets, iPhones, iPads, kindles, etc. Most of them are integrated communication devices supporting voice, data, and video communications as well as internet. Working as small, handheld computers, they have almost all features that users benefit from desktop platforms.

From word processing software to convenience applications of for example shares trading, all the modern desktop components can be integrated with them. Much like operating systems that are mandatory to operate computers, dedicated operating systems are also developed for the operation of handheld devices. Technological companies develop mobile operating systems to make these devices workable for users.

Google, Apple, Nokia, and Motorola that are internationally famous for mobile phones and internet technologies have come up with their device-dedicated mobile operating systems. Android, Apple's iOS, etc. are some of the popular solutions for the mobile environments.

While users find it simple and easygoing to get things done on handheld devices, there are also shortcomings attached to them. The important are small screen and limited storage restricting the working capacity of mobile phones to specific jobs as compared to broad working areas of desktop environment.

Mobile content development is multibillion dollars industry worldwide. IT entrepreneurs and programming companies in Pakistan can improve their share in the international market by contributing innovative mobile solutions. Education sector has to play its role in delivering hands-on IT knowledge to students to enable them to create vernacular convenience apps as well as need-based programming for foreign clients. The government-sponsored survey in association with private sector should be conducted to document present standing of IT sector in the country. It is imperative to make plan accordingly.