Interviews with our Sponsors

We asked a few of our sponsors about why they get involved in Hack Days:

“I have attended several hack days and developer conferences in the past years and I find them a great way to share knowledge and experiences, get feedback and to learn new things. You can always get docs, specs, presentations and almost everything else by searching online, but the human factor of live events always gives me something unexpected and valuable.” – Emanuele Bolognesi,  Head of AppsFuel

“We want to connect with developers, gather feedback on our APIs as well as gain knowledge on what other content developers would like to see on our platform.” Deborah Akinpelu, Pearson 

“The enthusiasm and knowledge of the people I meet is always inspiring and I learn so much.” James Rosewell, 51Degrees.mobi

It not only helps us reach our target audience and speak to developers who want to hear from us, but is also a nice way to give something back to the community” Terence Eden, InMobi

Does involvement in Hack Days have an impact on the further development of your products and services?

“Absolutely. Being involved in hackathons allows us to get a feel for not only what type of content we should work towards offering but also which data structures are more preferable and easier to use by developers, e.g. XML vs JSON”. – Deborah

Yes. We meet our customers (other developers) face to face and learn what challenges they have and hopefully what they like (and don’t like sometimes) about our products.” – James

“We use it for product feedback and user testing”. – Terence

“As you know we are currently working on AppsFuel, the new marketplace for HTML5 mobile web apps, recently launched in beta. AppsFuel‘s mission is to create a profitable ecosystem for developers. This is why it’s crucial for us to create tools that developers need to help them make their apps successful. So yes, meeting other developers at hack days such us OTA will inevitably have an impact on our own development decisions.” – Emanuele

There are a lot of different views on what defines Innovation, how it can be achieved, and how to nurture and support it within organisations. We think that the kind of creative tinkering, new learning, and collaboration that takes place at Hack Days lays the basis for future Innovations in the mobile industry and beyond. What are your own approaches to Innovation?

“a) Understand the problem really well, b) find a design that’s better than anything else, c) work really bloody hard to make it happen, d) listen to feedback, e) keep improving.” – James

The freedom to try (new) things in collaboration with the developer community. – Deborah

How do you see the role of developers in the future of the mobile industry?

They’re key – but in a long tail sense.  Pick up enough of them and hope that one becomes the next Angry Birds 🙂 – Terence

The mobile apps explosion has completely changed the role of the developers from supporting players to leading actors. Hugely successful products such as Instagram (or Angry Birds, Tap Tap Revenge and so on) were created by small teams of developers.Unfortunately the closed nature of native apps stores has already started creating problems for developers, that’s why we are betting on HTML5 with AppsFuel. This is the technology that will create the biggest opportunities in the near future. – Emanuele

We see developers moving away from platform-specific app development as cross-platform capabilities evolve. – Deborah

At the centre. The mobile industry is where the PC industry was in the early to mid 80s. Software will make or break multibillion dollar products and developers write the software. – James

What do you think is the key to a great app or a great mobile website?

A great user experience is very important. Listening to users and fixing bugs as needed or wanted is also key to a great app or mobile website. – Deborah

Everybody agrees that mobile apps should be simple, easy to use and must focus on a specific features. Some people say this does not apply to websites, but since people now mostly browse from smartphones or tablets, that’s not true anymore. The border between web and mobile web has disappeared and the difference between web apps and websites is fading. – Emanuele

Understanding what the user wants. Avoid pissing off your customer. Luck. – Terence

Understanding context. As just one example; where is the end user and what are they most likely to want where they are at this precise moment. – James

Do you have a view on the “next big thing” in the mobile industry?

Yes. The 100s of millions of web sites that don’t provide a good mobile experience being upgraded to support the small mobile screen, and mid sized tablet screens by relatively low skilled developers and end users. Ow. And machine to machine (smart meters, vending machines, etc) doubling the number of active mobile connections in the western world in only a few years. – James

No doubt about it: HTML5 web apps! – Emanuele

Micro-payments. People won’t pay 99p for a new set of levels – but they will pay 9p for a single level.
Internationalization. Developers from poor countries targeting rich countries for a big payout. – Terence

We envision an evolution of ‘App Stores‘. – Deborah

What changes would you like to see happen in the mobile industry to really accelerate innovation?

Reduction of the 30% fee from app stores. – Terence

Tizen, WeOS, Mozilla OS, others becoming a commercially viable alternative to Android with the huge budgets required to gain mass market adoption. I can but dream. – James

WebGL on mobile, full support of HTML5 and CSS3, including device APIs and the removal of browser vendor specific solutions. This will create an open and incredibly powerful cross-device development platform. – Emanuele

Thank-you for your time! We hope you had a great OTA12.