Maxis going big on mobile content

KUALA LUMPUR: Don't just think of Maxis Bhd as a telecommunications giant. It is morphing from that into an integrated services provider that’s keen on mobile content.

Jean Pascal van Overbeke, Maxis’ chief operating officer, believes the company’s role continues to evolve along with the proliferation of mobile Internet.

“Malaysia has a young population. About 50% is less than 25 years old and most of these Malaysians are using the Internet daily through their cellular phones,” he said.

This lifestyle has created a demand for a whole new wave of mobile applications, and Maxis wants to have a hand in that.

In partnership with content providers and application designers, Maxis has already come up with several neat mobile applications, such as the 2010 FIFA World Cup app for the iPhone, BlackBerry and Android smartphones.

With the current World Cup fever raging, this app provides footie fans with news alerts and other snippets of information such as match results, country profiles, venue information, as well as hall of fame and historical data on players and teams.

Maxis also caters to racing fans — another hot sport in the country — with its Lotus Racing iPhone Application that keeps subscribers up to date on race schedules and team developments, in addition to providing live commentaries on the Lotus Racing team and F1 2010 races.

Quick look

Then, there are its really helpful applications, such as Finder301 and Maxis Movies.

Finder301 (for the iPhone) is a location-based service that enables users to share reviews, ratings and details of restaurants, clinics, and banks, and even points out the ATMs nearest to the user.

Maxis Movies is for film buffs to browse what’s playing at the various cineplexes and cinemas. The movies are sorted by title, genre and language, and subscribers can also make bookings via the service.

“Our goal is to ensure that the mobile phone can be used in the broadest way possible, through the introduction of innovative applications,” said Van Overbeke.

Maxis promotes the development of such applications and content because this results in more value for its customers, he said.

It has several initiatives for achieving this. The Maxis’ Mobile Content Challenge, for one, encourages Malaysian students to develop such content and be rewarded with prizes.

Then, there is the Maxis Developer Programme, which provides mentoring, training and equipment to local content developers to help them generate new, useful and creative applications.

The Maxis 1Store allows content developers to host their applications online and is a place for Maxis customers to purchase these applications. The store has more than 1,200 applications, mostly developed for the Symbian and Java platform.

More than meets “i”

With the growing popularity of Apple’s just-released iPhone 4 and iPad tablet computer overseas, the eyes of Apple fans in Malaysia are firmly on Maxis, especially since it already distributes the earlier iPhone 3GS.

Van Overbeke said the iPhone 4 could be available here by August, but declined to provide prices. And, he said, Maxis’ data packages for the smartphone “would not be very expensive.”

As for the iPad, he said it is possible that Maxis will be distributing the 3G version of the tablet computer. “But it’s really up to Apple at this point.”

“We were the first to introduce the iPhone to Malaysians and (because of that) some presume that it would be the same with the iPad.

“On the day of the iPad’s international debut, some people started coming in to our sales centres to see if we had stock,” Van Overbeke said.

Still, a positive sign for iPad fans in this country is that Maxis is keen on creating educational applications for the iPad, and is in talks with the Education Ministry to gauge interest and opportunities.

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