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September - 2009 - issue > CEO Spot Light
Mobile Apps Hot Space to Watch
Ajay Kulkarni
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Smarter mobile applications that understand more about you and offer a personalized experience based on your usage patterns. There is a wealth of data about you sitting on your phone. Your mobile phone knows how many calls and text messages you send, whom you send them to, where you typically send them from, and much more. And this is information that is unique to mobile—very little of it is available from the Desktop PC.

In the past this information, if used at all, was primarily used for targeted advertising. Today, with RIM, Apple, Google, and Nokia bringing faster, more affordable, and more powerful devices to market than ever before, we are entering a Smartphone revolution that changes the game. Thanks to the proliferation of smartphones and the increasing penetration of high-speed data networks, it has become much easier to capture all the information already sitting on the phone, analyze on the handset or on servers in the cloud, and then deliver a personalized experience to the end user. This is exciting.

I believe that the top three factors shaping the industry in the new few years are 1) Increasing smartphone penetration, 2) Popularity of the app stores as a distribution channel, 3) Faster, more affordable data networks. The Apple iPhone AppStore has shown us how creative developers can be when given a powerful platform and how enthusiastically customers will download and try out new apps. As more of the world adopts Smartphones and more manufacturers/carriers develop their own app stores, we will no doubt see a wealth of apps offering a wide variety of services.

In terms of challenges, the key challenge that mobile entrepreneurs face today is monetization. Despite the popularity of the iPhone AppStore, we have yet to see any long-term sustainable businesses built entirely on the mobile experience. The onus will be on developers to identify revenue models are do not solely rely on advertising and one-off purchases.

However, just as the birth of the Internet led to revolutionary new business models like Amazon, EBay, and Google, we will undoubtedly see novel business models emerge out of the mobile apps industry.

Ajay Kulkarni is CEO of Sensobi. Sensobi is a Cambridge, Massachusetts based startup building a better address book for business professionals to help you stay on top of your important contacts.

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