AT&T turns to developer 'speed dating' to boost apps rollout

AT&T (NYSE:T) is poised to open mobile software development facilities in Palo Alto, Calif., Plano, Tex. and Tel Aviv, Israel, promising developers advice and assistance to create more successful mobile applications for platforms including Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone and Google's Android. AT&T chief technology officer John Donovan tells Bloomberg the project--costing "tens of millions of dollars" and employing as many as 36 people combined--is designed to enable the operator to bring new consumer and enterprise apps to market faster than rivals Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) and Sprint (NYSE:S). "The three centers provide us with a near-20 hour work day, so it lends itself very well to agile kinds of development," Donovan said.

AT&T plans to meet with as many as 400 developers each year, hearing pitches lasting eight to 10 minutes--a process Donovan calls "speed dating." If an app concept piques AT&T's interest, the carrier may offer developmental assistance and offer to launch it on its network first. "Why would we do it? Because we're going to end up with something to market faster than our competitors," Donovan said, adding AT&T expects the effort will yield about 30 new apps each year. AT&T also will share revenues from apps developed within the facilities.

AT&T is collaborating with venture capital firms Sequoia Capital and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers on the app development venture, relying on their expertise to identify promising startups. In addition, the venture firms may invest in companies that excel during the development process, although Donovan adds AT&T will not take equity stakes in any of the startups.

For more on the AT&T app initiative:
- read this Bloomberg article

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