Kendro Hendra is a man of boundless energy and creativity. The CEO of PT InTouch Innovate Indonesia, a member of Skybee, is introducing a mobile community network (mobinity.net), a social network application that allows cell phone users to improve their low end cell phones’ capacity to equal that of Blackberry at a far lower cost.

According to Kendro, Indonesian people are gadget savvy. This is seen by the fact that Indonesia has become the biggest market for Nokia Communicator in the global arena. Now that Blackberry has grown to be a new phenomenon, replacing communicators, the gadget which is in fact not low-priced has managed to win gadget lovers’ hearts in the country.

The Blackberry phenomenon prompted a number of cell phone producers to draw public attention by releasing QWERTY cell phones that are similar to Blackberry, targeting the middle-lower market. The result was a big surprise: thousands of people were willing to join a long queue for affordable QWERTY cell phones made in China. In just a few months, the “Chinese Blackberry” had grabbed second place in the cell phone market in Indonesia, beating the old Korean and American players who entered the country first.

The high interest for middle-lower range cell phones (Rp 750,000 – Rp 1 million) is mainly because they come in designs that at a glance look exactly the same like Blackberry, and have the capability to access social networks like Facebook and Yahoo Messenger. “Even though actually what those cell phones offer is not more than a launcher solution to access various services through a browser with a very limited capacity,” he said.

In order to bridge the desire of the middle-lower income group to own affordable QWERTY cell phones with a capacity like Blackberry, Kendro has created mobinity, a social network application with a capacity equal to Blackberry that is equipped with special APN (access point name) that allows operators to provide unlimited packages. Therefore users can enjoy a similar service to Blackberry at a weekly or monthly fixed, rate-Rp 15,000 per month.

The mobinity service that now runs in the Symbian S60 and Java-MIDP-2 platform targets both existing and new users. “We have worked in cooperation with all GSM operators, who will help market the mobinity service to the existing 100 million users,” said Kendro.

“For new users, we cooperate with all major local brands to pre-install the mobinity application and APN in the cell phones so that users can enjoy the fast and low-cost service,” the father of three added.

Born in Palembang on Dec. 31, 1955, Kendro is not a new face in the cell phone industry. He is the creator of dozens of software applications that give a cell phone its “soul.” Kendro, through his company, InTouch, helped Nokia create various cell phone applications, including the AirGuard for Communicator series cell phones.

His other software applications beginning with “Air” include AirAlbum, AirFax, AirRadio, and AirVouchers. But the ones most used are SettingsWizard and S80-DataMover which are globally licensed by Nokia to be included in each Symbian S60 Nokia cell phone. Kendro’s creations have been translated into 127 languages.

InTouch is one of a few information and communication companies of international standing. The marketing office of the company that was built in 1996 is located in Singapore. In Indonesia, InTouch employs about 60 people who work every day on software creation.

Kendro has been a mobile application developer since studying computer sciences at the University of Manitoba, Canada. After obtaining his master’s degree, he returned to Indonesia in 1981. To date he has created about 30 mobile software applications.

Married to Linda Widjaja, his campus mate in Canada, he started out by establishing InMac, the distributor of Apple Macintosh. In the early 1990s, Kendro began to deal with mobile applications after Apple released its first personal digital assistant (PDA), Newton. In 1996 Nokia released its first Communicator 9000.

In February 1999, when Kendro got an offer to cooperate with Nokia Asia Pacific, he built a company in Singapore because it had regional operations, but the development was still done in Indonesia.

After working in cooperation with other parties for years, Kendro, who dropped out from the school of architecture before studying computer science, felt that it was time to develop his own brand. The bespectacled man believes that an application for mobile phones had bright prospects with a huge future potential. Introducing mobinity and penetrating the mobile phone industry is a strategic step because even the most expensive cell phone will not function as a gadget without the application.

Young Indonesians have an IT capability that is comparable to other countries, according to Kendro. However, when it comes to IT outsourcing, people always refer to Bangalore, India, for example. Among the reasons is the fact that young people in India speak better English. Therefore, they learn new knowledge faster and are more responsive to new trends. “Besides mastering the programming language, Indonesian youngsters must be able to master English. It will be pitiful if they have great talent in IT, but are held back due to their English, and end up as hackers,” he said. (Burhan Abe)

The Jakarta Post, March 03, 2010