GLOBE LABS: Revolutionizing Smartphone Apps Development In The Philippines

We've all heard of big names that changed the world. Names such as Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, names that pushed lifestyle and technology an inch closer to things we only see in sci-fi films. And with today's technology and rich resources, it's only a matter of time when the next big name might appear real soon. Running for nearly five years now, great and passionate minds have been gathering in Globe Labs, a fast-growing community of geeks that strive to create a revolution through innovation.

Housed in leading telecommunications agency Globe Telecom, Globe Labs is geared towards building a community that intends to drive innovation forward. Through Globe Labs, aspiring and experienced developers alike will have the means as well as the resources to facilitate their ideas and have the opportunity to forge partnerships and promote their creations to a greater scale.

For smartphone owners, expect great new apps and claim bragging rights that your favorite mobile app did not come from Apple, Google, or Windows, but from a local developer, thanks to the Filipino talent, ingenuity, and creativity.

Greg Igaya, Head of Strategic Partnerships and Innovation for Globe Labs, shared the humble beginnings of the organization. "We started pooling together local Filipino developers who have big ideas, and are most willing to turn them into viable and tangible products. You don't have to be a large corporation; the only things you need are a great idea and try to build it using SMS/MMS, Location Based-Services (LBS) and Voice."

"There are a lot of gaps or issues that developers encounter, say for instance, how are their app creations going to be relevant to the end-user. That is our motivation for starting Globe Labs, to fill in these gaps and provide the best smartphone experience to Filipinos by letting them use world-class mobile applications for the Filipino by the Filipino."

Turning ideas into apps

With Globe Labs, developers learn and acquire the much-needed skills. "Upon joining our developer community, we can provide you the knowledge you need to hone your skills in application development. We provide technical documentation on the tools to help you build mobile applications that integrate with our core services. We also conduct regular trainings to introduce new developer technologies and platforms to help you keep your competitive edge."

Globe Labs also provides tools, resources, facilities, and enablers to pave the way for apps development. These come in the form of an official app registry or interface that allows sharing of application ideas and prototypes with the organization, various applications programming interface (API) or a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications, and different developer facilities.

Globe Labs supports its pool of developers with go-to-market strategies, enabling them to commercialize and monetize their applications.

"We really think that developers drive innovation forward, and all they need is access to markets, all they need is a little support," Igaya said. "We're not Apple or Google, but you get first-hand experience and know-how from people who engage fully in those spaces."

Anne Michelle Santos, Developer Relations Manager of Globe Labs added, "We really encourage more Filipinos to explore mobile app development. Globe Labs exists to back up local developer communities and support them until their ideas turn into actual services."

She later added that key developers have shared their experiences to the community. "We were so lucky to invite James Pearce, Head of Developer Advocacy of Facebook, to grace one of our sessions. He gave us an introduction on how to build apps using the Facebook platform. We also had Merci Niebres, one of the luminaries behind Google I/O, a big developer event in the United States, through their local developer community, Google Developer Group Philippines."

For exposure to User Experience Design and User Interface Design, Globe Labs invited Regnard Raquedan of the Philippine Web Designer Organization as resource speaker.

The makings of an app developer

Anyone can join the Globe Labs developer community with no specific IT background required. Whether you're a software developer, an IT student or professional or company, or even a techie with a passion for innovating and building applications, if your passion is creating and building applications, then you're welcome to join the geeky family of Globe Labs.

Santos shared that a nurse once joined the community and partnered with the developer responsible for MRT Trackr, and together they launched an app called "Where's My Doctor". Another couple joined Globe Labs and created an app especially for babies called Baby World of ABC's. The app is able to interact with a child similar to when showing picture flash cards complete with the parent's voice.

"We've encountered attendees that don't have an idea at all. And that's not a problem with us. Sometimes, it all starts with one is relevant to you, what are you likes and interests, what solutions can help solve your daily issues, what can give you fun and entertainment," said Igaya.

When asked how Globe Labs is doing so far, Santos said, "It's really showing a huge potential and a big rooms for further growth, starting from the rubrics of the Nokia era, here comes the explosion of smartphone apps. Apple has a couple of great apps we were able to support not just within our programs."

Challenges, but still opportunities

Igaya shared one of the key challenges they're faced with: "People want to engage in the experience of the technology, they're interested in the possibilities that it offers, but they can't do it full-time."

Santos backed this up: "Most of them are IT professionals who have day jobs and usually engage in mobile apps development only in their free time, so the level of engagement is not as consistent. But we see this as a room for growth and will definitely factor this in as we line up our plans for next year."

Another challenge is the quality of apps being published every day. Igaya shared that it's easy to "get drowned", and therefore, regardless whether the apps are produced for local content, they have to be competitive in a global scale to stand out.

"At the end of the day, it's all about passion and creativity. We can have you, even if you know little about the nitty gritty or the technical aspects of apps development. For as long as you have a good idea, then we invite you to be part of Globe Labs. It's a matter of finding who you can work with to put your idea into fruition.

"That's the reason why we organize community engagement activities, training sessions and tutorials, and sharing of best practices. We want to find spaces and opportunities where people can connect to each other to move something forward," Igaya said.

Globe Labs has a line-up of exciting events and activities where as an organizer or partner: International Game Development Association Meetup on October 29, Pre-Startup Weekend Davao Bootcamp on November 3, 2012 DevFest Bacolod on November 5, 2012 DevFest Cebu on November 7, 2012Pre-Startup Weekend Cebu Bootcamp on November 9, 2012Windows 8 Developer Day on November 14,  2012 Rails Girl Meetup on November 23 and 24, and the Code Challenge Cup on November 30, 2012.

For more information on Globe Labs, visit www.globelabs.com.ph or follow them on Twitter @globelabs.

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