Auckland-based mobile phone application developer Altaine is in for a record year according to its managing director, Warren Tobin.
Last week, the company won two awards in Motorola’s worldwide MOTODEV Widget Developer Challenge. Subway Express, which is delivered via Altaine’s Q JMP service, won first place in the “Best local content for Europe/Middle East/Africa” category and second place in the worldwide “Best widget for shopping” category.
The application is Altaine’s Motorola version of Subway Express, which is a mobile system that allows consumers to place orders by pointing and clicking from their mobile, says Tobin.
The application was originally developed for Subway in New Zealand in 2006, but has now made it to the UK. A pilot is underway in the UK and deployments there and in other countries are expected later this year, says Tobin.
Winning the awards gives Altaine independent verification of the quality and value of its products, says Tobin. “It also confirms that we are breaking new ground and we gain a lot of international exposure. Bottom line, we will close more business,” he says.
But with or without the award, Altaine is on track for doubling, or even tripling, its revenue this year, says Tobin.
He puts this down to two to three years of hard work, a market that is ready for mobile applications and a strong customer-base in quick service restaurants, a sector that is generally not affected by the economic downturn.
“We’ve had the most amazing start to the year. We are running at full capacity,” he says.
One of the main challenges in the mobile application space is the wide range of mobile platforms, Tobin says. “There are no clear winners in the mobile operating system space.”
Altaine’s team of five full-time developers are all “proficient” across a range of mobile platforms. “In the mobile world you can’t label yourself as a developer for a specific platform, you have to know all of them,” he says.
So, the team develops for the Symbian, iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Windows Mobile platforms, to name some of them.
The company is currently building a number of mobile commerce and loyalty products, as well as some new forms of mobile content, says Tobin. In partnership with a large overseas publishing company, Altaine is transforming traditional paper-based books into digital products. This could, for example, be a travel-guide that comes alive on the mobile phone, he says.
When Altaine was founded in 2002 it was one of the “SMS pioneers” in New Zealand and the UK, says Tobin, but since then, the market has changed. Prior to the arrival of the smartphone, most businesses struggled to see the value of mobile phone applications, he says.
“Thanks to the iPhone and Blackberry our clients are now beginning to appreciate the power and value that the mobile can bring to consumer-facing businesses.”