KUALA LUMPUR (3 December 2013) — In conjunction with Visit Malaysia Year (“VMY”) 2014, Microsoft Malaysia (“Microsoft”) and the Ministry of Tourism and Culture have partnered to launch ‘Discover MY Apps’ 2014, designed to create made-in-Malaysia Windows 8 apps to help visitors discover Malaysia. Set to be the nation’s biggest and grandest tourism celebration, Visit Malaysia Year 2014 will be a year filled with exciting activities and programs for visitors.
Discover MY Apps – Microsoft’s annual Windows Hackathon this year – is a collaborative effort between Microsoft and the Ministry of Tourism and Culture to harness the creative power of local software developers to create innovative apps that highlight the beauty and wonders of Malaysia. More than 500 participants took part in the software development marathon, held from 29 November – 1 December 2013 at the Telekom Convention Centre in Kuala Lumpur.
Rashidi Hasbullah, Deputy Secretary General (Tourism Industry) of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture was delighted with the collaboration, saying, “Tourism has always been a top priority for the nation in terms of reputation and generating income. In 2013, Malaysia’s tourism sector is projected to generate a revenue of RM65 billion, and has the potential to contribute further. In view of this, the Government has announced 2014 as Visit Malaysia Year, targeting 28 million tourists. We are glad that organizations such as Microsoft shares the country’s priorities, in this case supporting the Ministry’s efforts in promoting Malaysia as a top holiday destination in the world. The Discover MY Apps hackathon not only creates globally accessible Windows 8 apps on the Windows Store for users to find out more about our country and culture, it also contributes to nation-building by providing one of the best platforms for local talents to embrace entrepreneurism and innovation.”
Lonely Planet – the world’s most successful travel publisher, printing over 100 million books – recently ranked Malaysia as one of the top 10 countries to visit in 2014 in its “Best in Travel 2014”.
According to Dinesh Nair, Director of Developer and Platform Evangelism, Microsoft Malaysia, “We are proud to support the Government in promoting Visit Malaysia Year 2014. Microsoft echoes the Ministry’s statement that the role of nation-building is not exclusively the Government’s, but is a shared responsibility with the private sector and other key stakeholders. There has been tremendous response from the local software development community to Discover MY Apps 2014, continuing the great show of promise and enthusiasm we have been seeing for the Windows 8 platform. This event is another key example of the many opportunities we have in the pipeline to demonstrate our continued commitment to support local software development on all fronts. With over 120,000 apps now available on the Windows Store, we are thrilled to see local developers join in the continued momentum and take up the challenge to develop even more innovative apps for Windows 8.”
Othman Omar, General Manager of Selangor State Development Corporation (“Perbadanan Kemajuan Negeri Selangor” or PKNS) concurred with Dinesh, saying that both private and public sectors should embrace teamwork aggressively for a better Malaysia. “Collaboration is essential in spurring Malaysia’s efforts to a developed, high-income nation by 2020. Tourism, just like all sectors in Malaysia, require expertise from both the government and private sectors to contribute towards achieving’s the nation’s vision. Discover MY Apps is a perfect example of how various stakeholders can pool their individual strengths together for a greater cause.”
At the event, the more than 500 participants were provided with assets and know-how – including Windows 8 devices – to build their apps, and to even port existing apps from other operating systems to Windows 8. Participants were able to test their apps, with Microsoft engineers all the way from Japan on hand to answer questions and guide participants each step of the way. Enthusiastic developers also had access to the free online Microsoft training through the Microsoft Virtual Academy, a collaboration with the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) and Microsoft partners. Participants who were new to the platform were able to gain valuable practical experience and develop their skills in coding apps, while seasoned developers enhanced their professional skill-sets; exchanging knowledge and experiences.
Supporting partners of the event lent their support as well, offering their own teams to help developers in the areas of critical thinking for user experience and design aesthetics, and providing advice on longer term goals such as market sustainability and monetization of the apps. Developers had access to partners’ technologies such as API and staging platforms so that they could incorporate features into their apps; Media Prima Digital’s Tonton environment allowed developers to build social TV apps. Others such as PKNS had mentors to help developers to think about hundreds of shops in malls looking for contract solutions to shopping, parking, CRM, trip planning, interaction, automatic download, suggestions, location-based, retailers, ratings, promos, marketing, business intelligence, economic development, merchants, coupons, offers and attractions. Some of the developers present were winners of Cradle Fund’s RM150,000 grant that they won at the recent Global Entrepreneurship Summit held in Kuala Lumpur hosted by the Prime Minister.
“We are pleased to continue our partnership with Microsoft to drive a culture of innovation, by providing the right foundations for creativity, passion and tenacity to take hold in our local software talents. Programs such as these certainly augurs well with our efforts to spur the growth of a vibrant Digital Economy in Malaysia and complements MDeC’s ICON initiative which is focused on enabling up-and-coming local app developers to create world-class applications and mobile content, particularly those focused on the consumer social and education market. In fact, in the newly-launched third iteration – ICON3, we aim to empower developers to move up the value chain to focus on applications for enterprises, while further accelerating the growth of the mobile app industry in Malaysia,” said Datuk Badlisham Ghazali, CEO, MDeC.
Beyond serious computing power provided by Microsoft, the developers will also require reliable and high-speed broadband connectivity to turn their ideas into practical and useful applications. With this in mind, it was fitting for Microsoft to approach the nation’s trusted partner in telecommunications services, Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM) to deliver its high-speed broadband and ICT solutions to the participants.
Emily Wee, Vice President of Business and Media Operations, New Media, TM, said, “As Malaysia’s Broadband Champion, innovation, entrepreneurship and collaboration are key components to develop a thriving broadband ecosystem to support a truly digital lifestyle. Internally, we’ve even developed an innovation platform called the ‘TM Tech Council’ where we engage with tech influencers and online industry experts to seek and explore new ideas on how we can improve our services and the ICT industry in general. When Microsoft approached us to partner on this project, we jumped at the chance to share our resources in support of Malaysia’s startup ecosystem for creative and innovative solutions. The Internet is the enabler of innovation, and reliable high-speed broadband is the catalyst of that innovation. This is especially so in an age of collaboration where borders, time zones and locations are no longer barriers.
As the Official Telco Partner of this event, we are proud to present the ‘TM Innovation Award’ for three best apps and the winners will be given market access via our go-to-market channels to accelerate their product commercialization. We hope this small contribution by TM will accelerate local entrepreneur startups and help more high potential home-grown digital entrepreneurs to tap into a global demand. We look forward to the birth of more Digital Icons for Malaysia through such initiatives like Discover MY Apps.”
Media Prima Digital, Malaysia’s largest digital media group, said that this was a great opportunity to put Malaysia on the map via its tourism sector. “We’re excited to be part of an astute group of abled institutions who have the vision to position Malaysia as the regional hub for tourists. Tourism has always been one of the top priorities of the nation, and with 2014 being Visit Malaysia Year, we feel there is no better time to propel Malaysia towards that goal. This partnership with Microsoft is definitely a catalyst to spur Malaysia’s tourism sector and to discover new talent in the digital industry,” said Lam Swee Kim, Group General Manager of Media Prima Digital, the digital arm of Media Prima Berhad.
At the end of the three-day hackathon, participants submitted their apps to a panel of judges comprised of the various partners. Developers gained valuable feedback as the judges shared a holistic view on how the apps map back to the real world, taking into consideration the user experience, financial sustainability and the varying perspectives based on the different industries. To further leverage this, participants were encouraged to publish their app on the Windows Store. The winners will be announced in January 2014 to coincide with the launch of Visit Malaysia Year 2014. TM will also be sponsoring the promotion of selected apps, which will be projected onto the giant outdoor LED display on TM’s headquarters building – Menara TM.
“For more than 20 years, Microsoft has been creating an impact in transforming education and driving innovation in Malaysia by inspiring students and software developers to take up the challenge to realize their potential, and gear up for success personally and professionally. We will continue to work with the Government and industry stakeholders to invest in training these talents in software and application development skills. Through initiatives such as Discover MY Apps, we are building the local software developer community for made-in-Malaysia IP assets, in line with Malaysia’s aspirations of moving towards a high-income, knowledge-based and innovation-driven economy,” concluded Dinesh.
Discover MY Apps 2014 was held in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, and the supporting partners of the event – BizClub PKNS, Cradle Fund, MacroKiosk, MDeC, Media Prima Digital, MY Teksi, Netizen Testing, TM and UX Malaysia.