When the government of Maharashtra saw an opportunity to reach out to its citizens with mobile apps on iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8 platforms, it called the titans in the business — Apple, Google and Microsoft — last month, to brainstorm on possibilities.
The State had one main criterion — selecting apps in which the Marathi script looks good. Now, on Monday, Microsoft Inc (which is looking to penetrate the market with its Windows 8) was the first to grab the opportunity with a ‘Windows AppFest’, inviting developers from the city to build apps to interact with citizens on civic issues.
|Monday’s Window AppFest by Microsoft was the first forum to invite developers to build apps that would help interact with citizens on civic issues
“App marketplaces are now proving to be viable platforms to host egovernance and socially relevant apps. They can provide citizen-centric services in a secure manner, while ensuring increased transparency, reliability and efficiency in services.
Cloud computing also enables e-governance solutions to be more scalable and accessible,” Rajesh Aggarwal, secretary IT, government of Maharashtra, told Mirror. While the State government is yet to hear from others they approached, it is clearly pleased to make a start, however modest, with Windows 8’s current limited reach in the market.
Anand Deshpande, founder and- CEO, Persistent Systems, said, “The penetration into the market does not really matter at this stage because the brand has enough market and fewer apps.”
Ganesh Natrajan, vice chairman and CEO, Zensar Technologies, said, “It is an excellent medium but only if it goes beyond the marketing phase. Social and civic apps need to be nurtured and maintained, and not just remain marketing hype.”
With social networking and apps becoming the tool for the younger generation to find a voice, the State has been toying with the idea of using apps to interact with citizens for a while. It called the players over for a discussion on February 25.
Two days later, on Marathi Divas, the State launched the sakalmarathi.cdac.in app in association with the Punebased Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC). Over the next two weeks, Microsoft came back with the plan for the AppFest, again in Pune.
“This is just the beginning. We will slowly and steadily include other operating systems as well,” said Aggarwal. At the AppFest, developers will be encouraged to evolve civic apps. The top three apps will be selected for a presentation at a conference hosted by the Asian Development Bank.
While Aggarwal is keen to see the initiative move beyond being a marketing gimmick, Microsoft’s local spokesperson pinned the responsibility of taking the apps forward on the government. “It will be the government’s call who they make the apps accessible to.
Microsoft will test them in the lab and give it to civic authorities. If they run well, they can go live in three weeks.”
“The collective capability of the developer population in India is going to play a key role in fueling this movement across the world,” said Sanket Akerkar, managing director, Microsoft Corporation India Pvt Ltd.