This is smart: the AT&T Big Mobile Campus Challenge. Essentially it’s a contest — for a paltry $10K in prize money — where AT&T enlists college students in building mobile applications and products that they then own and can further develop as they see fit.
The winner this year: “Rover,” a campus-based local content, networking and advertising application:
The grand-prize winner is a team of full-time students from Harvard University. Alex Bick, Joy Ding, Drew Robb, Cameron Spickert and Winston Yan won for their “Rover” platform. They will split a $10,000 scholarship, and each team member will receive a mobile device of choice and a trip to the EduCause Annual Conference in Denver. “Rover” connects students with each other, their school and community. The core of Rover is a guidebook, enhanced by location-awareness and social networking features to inform students of what is happening in their campus through local deals, events, news and transportation. “Rover” is unique in having a live feed of deals that connects local businesses with students, creating interactions that allow for greater integration of students into the local community and vice versa.
This is smart because AT&T may have difficulty developing compelling mobile apps and content in house. Often you have to go outside an organization to gain a fresh perspective and inject new creativity into the process. Using students, who are closer to the target population, and paying them relatively little to generate new ideas makes a lot of sense from a corporate perspective.