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Where the excitement is: Mobile Monday

Last night I attended my first Mobile Monday. For the uninitiated, Mobile Mondays are held around the world and are opportunities for people working in the mobile industry in any given city to meet with peers, face-to-face. Last night’s meetup focused on showing 10 local startups.

I came away with two overall impressions:
 

  1. There is a lot of optimism and hope in this industry. Yes, everyone is talking about the recession and tough times ahead, but they’re eagerly developing the next generation of technology.
  2. Apparently the whole world uses the iPhone. Yeah, I know, it’s not true. But the iPhone App. Store has given developers an immediate outlet for their work. Several companies noted proudly that their core application was already being sold there, while it was still under development for other devices. BlackBerry will have an application store too, so hopefully that will help even things out.

The young engineers and business folks showing their best stuff have done some wonderful creative thinking with the existing and emerging mobile infrastructure.

Cadio, for example, is marrying location-based information with contextual targeting to create a solid understanding of movement patterns. The purpose is to create targeted ads that aren’t a nuisance, but actually fit in with people’s lives. Cadio took 2nd place in the mobile category in the MIT 100K Entrepreneurship Competition last year as Social Sense.

Pongr lets people take pictures of products in a store, then use that picture to find the same items around the web, do research and even find out if the price they’re getting is a good one. This potentially can put a lot of power into the hands of the shopper.

Drync also uses a camera phone, but then goes beyond giving wine enthusiasts a way to save their favorite wines, find out reviews and even buy them on the spot.

SCVNGR is among the most interesting companies I saw, giving companies an platform for developing scavenger hunts. The applications of this are pretty amazing. Colleges and universities area already using this as part of their orientation programs to help students learn their way around campus and to meet other people. Trade shows use it to move people around and drive traffic to certain booths, and the MFA used it for their Assyrian exhibit to engage younger visitors.

Assured Labor also uses location technology, but this matches workers with people who have work to give. What’s interesting here is that it’s based on text messaging, thereby targeting the non-tech savvy portion of the population who use cell phones but may not have PC or Mac-based Web access.

In all I left the meeting pumped and excited to see what other companies are coming down the road.

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Chuck Tanowitz

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