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National app rules for tax-exempt smartphones enter into effect

Bnamericas Published: Thursday, October 10, 2013
From this Thursday (Oct 10), all smartphones manufactured in Brazil subject to tax exemptions under the "Lei do Bem" law must leave factories embedded with a package of at least five national applications, as established by communications ministry MiniCom. This number will gradually increase during 2014, rising to 15 apps in January, 30 in July and 50 apps in December. Brazil aims to boost the local mobile applications ecosystem, fostering the development of developers, integrators and other players, while ensuring the availability of applications offering local content. According to information from MiniCom published in the country's federal gazette, Diário Oficial da União, nine OEMs have joined the initiative and had app projects approved: Huawei (with 8 apps), Apple (with 21), LG (9), Samsung (18), Sony Mobile (6), Brazil's Digibras (6), Nokia (16), Motorola Mobility (6) and Brazil's Positivo Informática (6). MiniCom highlighted the fact that the average number of apps per company was over 10, which is twice the minimum required in the initial phase of the program. Those companies which do not present apps but are benefited by the Lei do Bem's social welfare tax exemptions will not be entitled to the tax breaks. The apps will be offered to users in different forms: pre-installed; available through installation guides (wizards), or available embedded through a dedicated application which should come with a highlighted and updatable list with hyperlinks to download and install the applications. They should be made available in Portuguese and have no age limitations. Furthermore, they also have to encompass different categories such as education, health, sports, tourism, gaming and productivity. In addition to the obligatory apps, MiniCom can also suggest the inclusion of other national apps, for public utilities, government services or others chosen in a competition. According to MiniCom's industry, science and technology director, the goal is not to force the manufacturer to create the application, or to create some sort of market restriction, but to give a boost to the whole sector. Gontijo estimated that small developers will be among the greatest beneficiaries of the measure. Also, he said that manufacturers could promote competitions and events to select applications or open a channel to receive proposals from developers.

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