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22 February 2010

Global hotspots for mobile innovation

Filed under: innovation, startups — David Wood @ 1:42 pm

In which parts of the world can we find the most innovative developments in mobile products?

One way to answer that question is to look at the 20 finalists of the recent “Mobile Premier Awards” event.  Entries to this contest came from all over the world, nominated by local Mobile Monday chapter organisations.  An international group of judges whittled down the list of local nominations to a group of 20 finalists.  Here’s the geographical breakdown of the final 20:

  • 1 from South America (Bogota)
  • 2 from North America (New York and Silicon Valley)
  • 2 from India (Chennai and New Delhi)
  • 1 from the Middle East (Tel Aviv)
  • 5 from Baltic countries (Copenhagen, Estonia, Lithuania, Oslo, and Stockholm)
  • 1 from Balkan countries (Slovenia)
  • 8 from Western Europe (Amsterdam, Austria, Barcelona, Berlin, Edinburgh, London, Milan, and Munich).

On the day of the final itself, out of these 20 companies, prizes were awarded to:

But another way to answer this question is to look at the view of the influential publication Fast Company.  They’ve just published a list of the world’s ten most innovative companies in the mobile industry.

What kind of geographical breakdown would you expect in Fast Company’s list?

90% of the list are companies headquartered in the USA:

  • Google, Apple, Amazon, Ford, Evernote, Qualcomm, Clearwire, Foursquare, Intermap.

Only one entry on the list is headquartered outside the USA:

  • HTC.

What should we make of this fact?  Here are three ways to think about it:

  1. Fast Company, immersed in activities in the US, is suffering from myopia (short-sightedness)
  2. It’s smart marketing by Fast Company.  As Matt Millar suggested: Fast Company is a US mag, read by US people. So tell them the US is great, they buy more 🙂
  3. The lion’s share of the greatest mobile innovation really is happening in the USA, and the rest of the world should wake up and recognise that fact.

If the third explanation is the right one, perhaps I should seek my next employment in the US.

I’m reminded of the marvellously thought-provoking picture produced a couple of years back by Rubicon Consulting, of how Internet companies view the mobile industry:

Footnote: Thanks to Petteri Muilu for drawing my attention to the Fast Company list.

21 January 2010

Selecting the most exciting mobile startups

Filed under: Barcelona, innovation, Mobile Monday, startups — David Wood @ 3:32 pm
  • Study the online details of each of 50 attractive mobile startup companies;
  • Identify, from this list, the 10 that are “the best of the best”.

That was the challenge posed to me earlier this week by Rudy de Waele, the Simon Cowell of the mobile industy.

As in previous years, the Monday of Mobile World Congress week – when the mobile industry congregates in Barcelona – will feature an Mobile Premier Awards event.  This event will feature a number of quickfire pitches by companies selected by Mobile Monday chapters worldwide.  These companies are competing for a number of awards, including the Mobile Premier Award in Innovation.

By this stage in the contest, there are 50 candidates.  Each has been selected as the result of a process in one of the Mobile Monday chapters.  We’re now at the stage of reducing this list to 20, to avoid the event in Barcelona stretching on too long in time.  Responsibility for this reduction falls to a group of people described as “an online jury of industry experts”.

I was honoured to be asked to take part in this jury, but at the same time I was apprehensive.  It’s a considerable responsibility to look at the information about each of 50 companies, and to find the most deserving 10 from that list.  (Each jury member picks 10.  The organisers aggregate the votes from all 25 jury members, and the top-scoring 20 companies are invited to make a pitch at the event in Barcelona.)

The guidelines to jury members asked that we evaluate each candidate based on:

  • originality, creativity and innovation;
  • technical and operational feasibility;
  • economic and financial viability.

I created a spreadsheet for my own use and started following links Rudy provided me to entries for each of the companies on dotopen.com.  In turn these entries pointed to other info, such as the companies’ own websites.

As I anticipated, the selection process was far from easy!  I quickly found 10 companies that I thought definitely deserved to attend Barcelona – and I had only searched about one third of the way through the list of nominees…

Occasionally I thought that a particular entry looked comparatively uninteresting (for example, that it was a “Me too” offering).  But when I clicked onto the company’s own website and started looking in more detail at what they had done, I would I think to myself “Mmm… this startup has a strong proposition after all”.

However, by close of play yesterday I had made my selection.  It’s inappropriate for me to publicly mention any companies at this time.  But I will say that I expect the event in Barcelona will give strong evidence of some companies executing well on some very interesting business ideas.

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