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O2 lures phone app devs to Silicon Roundabout all-nighter

Free grub at 36-hour NFC contest

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O2 is hosting an hack-a-thon weekend, on 24 March, when the operator will provide food, drink and expert assistance to anyone prepared to spend 36 hours coding an wireless NFC application.

The event is free, but only open to 100 people. Those hundred are promised "good food and refreshments" over the weekend, culminating in a prize-giving on Sunday afternoon with handsets and other kit to be given away. Should anything stand out then Telefonica's Bluevia will be on hand to help with a commercial launch - as long as the app uses a Bluevia API or two.

The competition is open to teams of up to five, and individuals who enter will be matched up with others to create a team for the event - surely the ideal foundation for a beautiful friendship, or a final presentation punctuated by on-stage fisticuffs, depending on how the weekend progresses.

There are no big cash prizes on offer, though Bluevia will chip in some development funding for the right idea and advertising biz Clear Channel is prepared to give a winning app some poster time (on a central London bus stop!) But that's in keeping with the relaxed atmosphere which permeates successful events of this type - just as on The Generation Game*, the prizes have to be crap to stop people taking it seriously.

And these events are all about the atmosphere. Nokia used to throw its Helsinki office open to developer events of this type, and the annual Over The Air event attracted more than 600 developers to Bletchley Park last year (and made money for the first ever time). Both of those invited developers to sleep over (Nokia even provided sleeping bags), but O2 is suggesting attendees might like to stick it out at their keyboards.

O2's event is being backed by hip-PR outfit Isobar, and will take place within spitting distance of Silicon Roundabout (that's Old Street tube, London, for the squares amongst you), so developers might decide to nip home for a nap between compiling.

If the atmosphere is right then these events can create crucibles of development, but if it goes wrong then it's just a lot of bearded people supping free diet coke.

Bootnote

* A legendary UK game show which peaked at 25 million viewers, but kept the prizes cheap as the game itself was quite silly.

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