A new kind of library hopes it can help local companies compete in the global market.
The Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre opened its mobile handset library Wednesday morning. For a fee, the library will lend smart phones and tablets to businesses looking to develop mobile apps.
“Now you have access to all the different major operating systems that are available,” centre commercialization specialist Nick Kolobutin.
Unless a person or business has deep pockets, it’s hard to get their hands on devices that use different platforms, such as Apple or Android.
“On your phone you only have access to one app store. Now you have access to all the app stores if you come and use our mobile library.”
It can also help hardware developers who want to test various accessories they are looking to build. The library is the first one of its kind in Canada outside of major urban centres. It’s a great way to keep tech-savvy entrepreneurs in the city Kolobutin said.
“If they go elsewhere we might lose them forever,” he said.
But even if a company isn’t in the tech business, the library can help them become more productive with mobile devices through mentoring and training.
John McKenna is already on board. The president of Arcori Inc., a local software developer, McKenna said his company has started to move their property management software to the mobile market over the past six months. Getting to test and develop that software across all platforms at once means they can compete with companies in major markets.
“That’s a very big advantage for us. It allows us to compete with much larger companies than we otherwise could,” he said. “This lets us go after a wider base earlier.”
The company has seven employees in Thunder Bay with another three in Toronto. The library has partnered with Tbaytel. It currently has 12 devices, including tablets. More devices are expected, based on user feedback.
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