Calling on the venture community and developers to bring their ideas, AT&T today extended collaboration opportunities and resources designed to quickly advance those ideas from inception to commercial applications.
AT&T* announced plans to work with Alcatel-Lucent, Amdocs and Ericsson, to locate innovation centers in Palo Alto, CA, Plano, TX, and Ra'anana, near Tel Aviv, Israel. Cisco and Juniper Networks also plan to participate in the centers as infrastructure providers and collaborators. The centers will provide an environment for developers to collaborate with AT&T and its innovators, its host suppliers and other developers.
Initial projects are already underway in temporary facilities, and AT&T and its industry collaborators are engaged in a series of fast-pitch reviews to select additional projects. Through the speed-dating format, AT&T plans to review as many as 400 proposals a year.
In the latest of the fast-pitch events, held yesterday in San Francisco, the company and its industry collaborators selected participants working in three key areas:
- Connected-health applications that could help identify health concerns earlier and dramatically improve the quality of care
- HTML5 applications that will revolutionize the online experience, and
- Machine-to-machine mobile applications that will help people interact with their environment in meaningful new ways.
“The innovation centers will help us enhance collaboration and dramatically accelerate the velocity of innovation, taking ideas from concept to reality in mere months as opposed to years,” said John Donovan, AT&T's chief technology officer. “We're tapping into cutting-edge design expertise in Silicon Valley, prototyping industry applications – from automotive to education services – in Plano and the deep skills in communications protocols and innovation that reside in Israel. Working across centers, innovation can follow the sun with a near 24-hour cycle time for agile development.”
Application development veteran Peter Hill has been tapped to lead AT&T's innovation center initiative as vice president, ecosystems and innovation. Hill previously had responsibility for the technology behind AT&T's award winning AT&T U-verse service. He also led the research on three-screen applications at AT&T's IPTV Labs, which created many of the U-verse applications that consumers enjoy today.
“We're collaborating to co-create applications,” said Hill. “The idea is to help innovators who have great ideas but lack the right resources by connecting them with the expertise and network that AT&T has been developing for decades.”
“This program provides a forum for start-ups to get a quick, decisive look from AT&T and promises to pair selected ventures with the resources necessary to get to market quickly,” said Matt Murphy, partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. “This isn't something we've seen from AT&T in the past and it's not something we're seeing from other operators. It reflects a positive shift in thinking that will be a strategic advantage.”
“Through the innovation centers, AT&T is embracing the 'valley' culture,” said Jim Goetz, general partner, Sequoia Capital. “They're positioning themselves where ideas are being generated and working at a start-up velocity.”
Companies ranging from startups to Fortune 500 companies have shown an interest in working within the AT&T innovation center structure. Many of these are “guided” development projects, where companies join with AT&T on strategic projects of mutual interest. Guided projects are driven by AT&T innovation coaches and dedicated business and technical staff, with the expectation that resulting applications will launch on the AT&T network.
“In the fast-paced mobile sector, short time-to-market is critical in order to capitalize on emerging market opportunities,” said Abraham Elias, CEO of Sencha, which is working within a guided HTML5 project. “AT&T is in tune with how software is being developed today, providing unique resources to this project that aren't available elsewhere.”
Additional companies are working at the AT&T innovation center on an “enhanced” innovation track, which provides access to design, technical and business support services and host vendor experts. Teams have the opportunity to work with AT&T to accelerate development from concept to the customer through a live pilot program, rapid prototyping and/or “fast track” certification.
“Working within the AT&T innovation center framework has helped us dramatically reduce the timescales, costs and complexity associated with introducing our technology,” said Sagi Schliesser, CEO and founder of Cognitive Media Innovations (CMI), which has developed an innovative mobile reading experience under the enhanced framework in conjunction with Amdocs. “The openness and flexibility of the AT&T and Amdocs teams demonstrates both companies' deep commitment to innovation.”
For developers seeking a semi-autonomous environment for live testing on the AT&T network, developers can take advantage of the free online portal and center facilities to test and hone their own applications through the “open” innovation program.
Online AT&T Innovation Center Portal
Part of the AT&T innovation center initiative includes an online portal that will give developers the tools, support and customer access to help build, test and certify applications across a range of broadband platforms. Prospective collaborators will be able to begin participation by visiting developer.att.com/innovation to gain access to an array of technologies and the opportunity to apply for a deeper set of dedicated resources from anywhere in the world without having to travel to one of the facilities.
The portal hosts a broad set of resources and will serve as a collaboration gateway with community forums, live chat with AT&T experts, development dashboards, and feedback from beta customers.
Facilities in California, Texas and Israel
Center locations will include support for better visibility and access to the next generation of future applications, service innovations and enablers that utilize the AT&T network. Alcatel-Lucent, Amdocs and Ericsson are anticipated to sponsor the permanent Plano, Ra'anana and Palo Alto locations, respectively. The first of the centers are scheduled to open by year-end in, with the remaining open by early 2011.
The centers will work together, and all will include equipment dedicated to application and service development, prototyping, testing and demonstration of emerging capabilities to facilitate development of new applications, devices, cloud services and enabling technologies.