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Views on hot start-ups in the mobile technology space
si Team
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Nick Desai, Co-founder & Chairman Juice Wireless
Founded in 2004, Los-Angeles based Juice Wireless is focused on delivering JuiceCaster—the next evolution in mobile and online social media.

Now that 3G networks are largely built out and handsets have increased memory and decent video cameras, I think the most important development in mobile over the next year will be the mainstream adoption of picture and video communications as a core part of the mobile consumer experience. If pictures and videos are received and sent by the handset from anywhere with the regularity that voice and text have now, it will represent a tectonic shift in human communications touching everything from advertising to commerce to entertainment, dating and more. Why?

Because 3 billion people will now have instant, intelligent, interactive, location aware access to anything they want, in rich media This revolution will enable precision marketing, interactive dating, true social networking and user generated content, and make voice perhaps the “boring and old” thing one can do with his cell phone, because a picture is worth a thousand words.

Additionally, one obvious place pictures and videos will go to, or come from, is the Internet. Efficient integration of the .com world with the mobile platform is a related and necessary evolution that will soon follow due to the increased consumption of rich media on the phone.

From the advertising and commerce perspective, mobile isn’t about the 30 second spot on the handset, but rather about personalized video messaging to the receptive consumer at the ideal point of receptivity.

Arish Ali, Co-Founder & President, Skava
Founded in 2002, San Francisco-based Skava develops network-aware mobile games and applications.

I think the big trend in the industry is going to be the paradigm shift from the phone as a communication and entertainment device to "phone as a tool" model. This is going to be heralded by operators and developers bringing to market compelling products and services which will allow consumers to do more things right from their phone which are currently done on a PC or offline. The more obvious examples of such applications are maps and navigation services, photo-sharing services, instant messaging and social presence. However this is just the starting point in the migration of a wide range of tools, utilities, services, references to your mobile phone.

There are many exciting startups that see this bigger potential and are working to realize it. I believe the winners in this space are going to be the mobile technology companies that have mastered the complexity of delivering rich interactive applications across a wide a variety of devices, operator networks and software platforms, and are quickly able to deliver products to mass market consumers. On the non-technology side, most major brands and online businesses already have a mobile strategy in place and they will also benefit from this trend towards "phone as a tool" paradigm. The operators are going to play a major role in this by promoting such services and educating the customers and driving more traffic to their apps deck. Consumers are soon going to realize there is more to the phone than voice, music and games.

Vivek Khuller, President & CEO, DiVitas Networks
Divitas Networks enables mobile-to-mobile convergence, while giving the enterprise complete control of its communications system. Headquartered in Mountain View, CA, DiVitas is backed by Clearstone Venture Partners and Menlo Ventures and has received two rounds of financing totaling $23 million to date.

In the coming year, the rollout of new, converged-mobile products such as dual-mode phones will be a key development in making mobile-to-mobile convergence (MMC) a de facto business requirement for mobile communications.

MMC leverages WiFi and cellular networks as well as multi-mode phones to provide mobile workers with a single business number and single voicemail that lets them remain in communication, regardless of location. MMC-enabled end users carry one device that roams seamlessly, back and forth, between disparate (WiFi and cellular) networks. Moreover, MMC grants any mobile worker with access to enterprise applications such as email, voicemail, IM, presence, PBX deskphone functions, and CRM to enhance the mobile-communications experience.

Because MMC is by definition mobile-network-, handset-, PBX-, WLAN- and carrier-agnostic, it lets companies affordably mobilize their entire workforce. Variety of choice in each of theses technologies is critical. It didn’t take long for the hot mobile-phone market to reach commoditization and we expect to see the same excitement stemming from this next wave of mobile devices.

Rajeev Raman, Founder & CEO, MyWaves
My waves is the mobile video company that is mobilizing all web entertainment, broadcasting thousands of channels of personalized video content to mobile phones worldwide. Founded in 2005, this Sunnyvale, CA-based company is backed by Menlo Ventures.

The two biggest developments in our space are: a). Copyright and compensation issues with content owners. Hollywood and Silicon Valley economies are intertwined more than ever before. Technology platforms like MyWaves and YouTube are bringing broad distribution capabilities at a fraction of the cost of traditional distribution. b). Rise of wireless cellular and WIFI data networks. High-speed access on the go is moving from niche urban markets to broad deployments worldwide. Mobile devices are therefore going to be extremely important in people’s lives and will bring into focus the “third screen”.

Indraj (Indy) Gill, CEO & Chairman, UnWired Buyer
Unwired Buyer provides a voice-based commerce platform that delivers real-time, interactive mobile notification and transaction services directly into the consumer’s hands anytime, anywhere. The Austin, TX-based company was launched in fall 2005 is funded by Accent Texas Fund, Aegis Texas Venture Fund, and DFJ Mercury.

Today, there are over 200 million cell phones in the US. Besides, a wallet and car keys the only other thing that consumers always have with them is the mobile phone. The primary use of every phone is conversation, so using the voice channel makes a lot of sense. Voice communications require no special data plans, no downloads, no learning curves, and it has access to all other phones.

In such an environment, how do you provide the ability for business to reach increasingly elusive customers, who are on the go with their mobile phones? Creating and publishing content via mobile out-bound voice calls means companies can communicate directly to target audiences and convert under-utilized assets like content as well as customers into high-performance assets.

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