BROOMFIELD, Colo.—Service providers are not the enemy of application developers, despite a preconceived notion that they are, Alcatel-Lucent’s Laura Merling told a crowd of developers at this morning’s Glue Conference during a keynote speech. The conference is more streamlined than traditional wireless conference, so much so that presenters are not announcing their titles, and keynote speeches are shorter. (And there is an hour-long ice cream break at 3 p.m. Just saying.)
Developers and service providers need to work together to give end users the best possible experience, Merling told a crowd of about 500. While LTE technology brings more bandwidth to developers, LTE does not exist in a silo. Operators will continue to use their 2G and 3G networks. As such, applications like streaming may work well on the 4G network, but the ability to download the app may be a better fit for older networks. “You never know at what time you are going to be on what part of the network,” she said. Smart developers will decide what gets pushed to the cloud and what doesn’t so they can better manage the customer’s experience. Service providers also need to show application developers what application programmable interfaces they are exposing so developers can take advantage of that in their apps.
The benefit of this cooperation? Money. Angry Birds developer Rovio is working with service providers to encourage them to “zero rate” its game in exchange for a revenue share on in-app revenues, Merling said. Angry Birds in March had been downloaded 100 million times. The company did a trial with Mighty Eagle, which lets players bypass a game level in exchange for a fee. Rovio said that 40% of the people who downloaded the game had used Mighty Eagle at least once. That kind of traction appeals to service providers because they are included in the business model rather than just supplying the bandwidth.
While LTE is being rolled out in the United States, developers in the room picked the Asia Pacific as the hottest area for LTE deployments with a show of hands. Merling told the audience that developers need to think of new business models because consumers in some areas of A-Pac may not have a lot of disposable income to pay for data packages. “How do you make it affordable?”