We were recently able to interview Stefano Virgilli, the director of Vox Lab. Vox Lab specializes in Adobe courses but also offers extensive classes for iOS development. We talked to Stefano about his app experiences in Singapore and about mobile culture there.
Hello Stefano and thank you for taking the time to talk with us today. All to often, mobile application developers based in the US tend to forget about the rest of the world. Can you please tell us a bit about mobile usage and the mobile culture in Singapore?
Singapore is a “micro cosmos.” Everything caters to a big country although it’s just a city with 5 million people. Applications here are usually designed to fulfill local needs. For example you can find plenty of apps about food, entertainment and transportation.
How about the different platforms? Is there a clear leader in smartphone technology at the moment?
Until a few months back, Singapore had the highest percentage of iOS coverage in the world with 25% of the population, including infants and elderly. I have not checked in the past few months, but judging by the number of iPads and iPhones I see around, it may clearly still be the case. Here you can easily see 3 years old babies holding iPad 2’s.
What type of apps do people in Singapore want? Is there anything different that you’ve noticed that may be of interest to developers?
Another catchy part of the Singapore mobile market is games. In Singapore, I meet many “professional gamers.” Gaming is everywhere. You walk into a Starbucks at lunchtime and see 4 Singaporeans at the same table playing games. Nobody talks, everyone plays.
What specific needs have global app developers been failing to meet?
To Singaporeans, local content is certainly more interesting that global content. They may be very interested in knowing everything about the best place to have a special meal for cheap. Sometimes apps made in the USA fail to understand that Asia in general is 3 billion people with their own culture, passion and interest.
How can developers in other parts of the world best interact with the people of Singapore? How can we showcase our new apps to your local app users? Or better put, where and how do people in Singapore find out about new apps?
New apps are generally discovered through word of mouth. Many have Angry Birds, What’sApp and HandCent installed on their devices. Games that allow multiplayers are another growing segment. Farmville is probably already history, as many Chinese developers are discovering newer and newer ways to engage and entertain users with gaming.
What about app developers based in Singapore? How many are there roughly and how can the world better interact with their products and services?
The country is small. Really small! It only takes 45 minutes driving east to west to cross the entire Singapore. Local apps focus on really niece markets. For example there is a very useful app to book cabs. Others to direct you to art openings in Singapore. Another one directs you to the best hawker style restaurant. I honestly see a lot of potential now in the new wave of apps. Those that cater to local business. In a way, the same transition that happened 12 years ago when everyone wanted a website. Now every business wants its own app.
Speaking of app developers, you run VOX LAB where you teach iPhone development courses. Can you please tell us a bit about the program and about the student body?
At VOX LAB, 70% of our clients are corporates who want to learn how to leverage the programming experience they accumulated over the past years but now for mobile. The remaining 30% are individuals interested in pursuing the freelance mobile development career.
How many international students do you get every year?
We have learners from 25 countries that decide to take our short courses to “cut the queue” and learn directly from the experience of our trainers-developers.
Besides for teaching students how to create and develop apps, does your program help teach about ways to market apps? Coding the app is really only a small part of the total life of the development process. Getting the word out about great new apps is a challenge in and of itself. Are there any marketing success stories that you can share?
We have developed the corporate application of Freshlook Color Studio contact lenses. The client was interested in developing both for iPhone and Facebook. Beside the challenge of developing for both computer screen and mobile screen, the project ran smoothly. You can check the app on the app store.
And lastly, what advise can you give all current and future developers around the world?
Focus on corporate.
Thank you so much Stefano.
Vox Lab is a worldwide network of learning facilities, setting the benchmark in visual arts and information communications training. Stefano has an Italian degree in communication design. His experience in the training and education sector has been growing since 2000. Stefano started teaching 2D graphic design and photography post production. Later on, he further specialized in video editing, 2D and 2.5D animation. In 2006, Stefano brought his expertise and experience to Singapore. His years in training were augmented by his work in a design studio in Italy, which he built from scratch. He directed both Ultimate Video Fx as well as VOX. The experience placed him in a solid position to combine theory and practical hands-on work. Today, Stefano is the director of LAB School, where his knowledge and insight are in demand across the island, from several government bodies, institutions, and private enterprises.
About Affective Apps
Affective Apps is a small independent design studio with one huge goal: to offer individuals and families creative outlets and experiences. Their newest release, Mad Lips, helps people connect through laughter. Previous apps, such as Art Bellies Pocket, showed non-artists how to create digital masterpieces that are inspired by loved ones.