Smarter Apps The Next Big Trend Says BlueVia

We interviewed James Parton, head of Telefonica Developer Marketing about BlueVia, Telefonica's developer platform, a few weeks before O2 Litmus closes its doors and is absorbed by the new entity (we're told that there will be a "structure migration" before then).

We probed him over where BlueVia is going, the new business proposition they're putting on the table, the changing role of the operator in the mobile ecosystem and the future of apps.

In a nutshell, what is BlueVia?

BlueVia is the new global developer platform from Telefonica that helps developers take apps, web services, and ideas to market. BlueVia is built on four founding principles: Scale, Tools, Business Models, and Path to Market. BlueVia offers ground breaking, zero risk, business models for developers, along with ‘mix & match’ models to create multiple revenue streams.

What was the catalyst behind the creation of BlueVia?

It has been a three year journey to reach this point. Telefonica was running a number of regional developer programs in the UK, Spain, Argentina and Mexico. This allowed us to begin the process of engaging with developers to understand where we can add value, and equally where we just need to get out of the way.

In addition we commissioned the very successful Developer Economics 2010 report (see http://www.visionmobile.com/blog/devecon/ for a free download) which also helped to highlight the needs of developers. BlueVia builds on this regional learning and research insight to take Telefonica's developer offer to the next level. We are also delighted to be supporting Developer Economics again in 2011 so if you would like to take part visit http://www.visionmobile.com/Bluevia

How is Bluevia different from say, Android Market or Apple App Store? (Like Amazon or Apple, Bluevia has a 70:30 revenue share scheme)

BlueVia is focused on packaging Telefonica's assets in the form of low friction cloud based API's. In other words offering simple plug in's to our network capabilities that a developer can pick up and integrate into their mobile app, website, internet TV app, whatever.

The benefits being richer functionality, greater insight into the people using their apps, and new revenue streams through the business models we offer on top of the API's. BlueVia is therefore agnostic to the consumption device, operating system layer, etc.

At launch we offer five revenue share business models which are zero risk to the developer. Our model is the customer pays, we collect the revenue, then share that back with the developer. The developer pays for nothing, they just receive a cheque each month, and our thanks!

What has been the feedback from developers during your closed beta?

So far very positive, but of course we are under no illusion that everything is perfect. We know we will make mistakes, but we have a software mindset of fail fast and iterate. I think our no nonsense approach to helping developers make money is beginning to gain traction. In the past too many developer programs have had impressive rhetoric, but lacking when it comes to showing developers how they can actually make money.

The key thing for us though is for developers to engage with us. We can only deliver what developers need if they enter into a dialogue with us and help shape where BlueVia goes. Despite only being a few weeks old, you can read our first four cases studies of how developers are using BlueVia to make a difference to their apps and their business models here.

How will Bluevia collaborate with WAC?

BlueVia is already collaborating with WAC (Telefonica is on the board of directors companies of the Wholesale Applications Community). The same team that manages BlueVia is also responsible for Telefonica's contribution into WAC to ensure we maximise synergies. At Mobile World Congress you would have seen members of the BlueVia team supporting the WAC Developer day on the Monday and performing demo's on the WAC stand throughout the week.

What are the plans for other territories?

As I mentioned above we are following an agile methodology. We could have taken the typical Telco approach and sat on BlueVia until all of Telefonica's operating businesses were integrated, ensuring everything was perfect before launching. However we felt that getting the concept out there, getting the feedback loop with developers going, and building momentum was more important. You will see additional markets joining the BlueVia platform and further API's and business model innovation throughout this year.

Will BlueVia be M2M friendly (going beyond mobile devices)?

The BlueVia API's are deliberately cloud based API's, abstracted away from the end consumption device, so already today BlueVia works equally well on a mobile device, a website, an internet TV service, a car. A pure M2M scenario is something we may look at in the future.

What are the bigger trends that are coming in the world of mobile ecosystems?

I'm a big proponent of making apps 'smarter'. I really believe we are only at the beginning of what will be possible on mobile. Today if we both download the same app, they behave exactly the same way for both of us. They have no appreciation of our personal preferences, or our personal context. Turning 'dumb' apps into 'smart' apps through the inclusion of additional contextual information will be the next wave of innovation. You can get more information on this by downloading the MEF's guide to enablers here.