Yesterday I had the chance to attend MobileDevCamp Saigon for some hours in the morning. It was organized by Orance France Telecom, TechPropulsionLabs, and FaberNovel, and was held on Saturday and Sunday at the University of Technology on Ly Tryong Kiet street in Ho Chi Minh City. The 2-day event revolved around mobile applications, largest audience group were developers of mobile applications and those interested in it. From 80 participants in the last year the event jumped up to more than 230 pre-registrations in this year. Although the number of actual participants might be a little lower it shows the increasing interest in mobile applications and the eagerness of young Vietnamese developers to get things started in this booming field.
Saturday morning was organized in the style of a conference. On four concurrent tracks local developers, marketing specialists and foreign experts held 30-minutes presentations. Technical topics were covered (of course), as well as marketing of mobile applications or introductory talks about different areas. Main language was Vietnamese while slides and presentations given by foreigners were in English. In part two of the event, a 24-hours development contest started on Saturday afternoon that allowed groups of up to 4 developers to compete against each other.
One of the highlights of MobileDevCamp 2010 was the announcement of a new location-based service “Made in Vietnam”. The new start-up company “Skunkworks”, based in Ho Chi Minh City, has spent the last months developing a mobile service whose long-term vision is to compete on the international market, then most likely with Foursquare and GoWalla. Its main feature is the well-known “check in”. Many other features will complement this, e.g. inviting friends to locations, sharing opinions and tips around locations, and discover new locations nearby. Vietnam will be the first market Skunkworks concentrates on, but expansion will start soon, probably first into other Asian countries. Although announced on MobileDevCamp, the service is still under development. It is planned to launch a “beta” phase in around one month from now (let’s say the beginning of September, just to know when it’s time to get impatient). By then, at least the app for Android phones will be available for download, the iPhone version is also under development. A name for the service has not been revealed yet, nor more concrete information about the business model and long-term strategies. I am definitely curious to see where it goes.