Itís been an exciting year in the Boston mobile ecosystem. Between M&A, continued growth of significant Boston industry players, and a bevy of new venture-backed startups, weíve seen progress at a head-spinning pace. These are one manís thoughts, but Iíll certainly be curious to hear what others think in the comments section.
Without further ado, here are six key developments in the Boston mobile industry:
- Big exits show value being generated in the Greater Boston ecosystem: Nuanceís acquisitions of Swype and Boston-based Vlingo cement its position as a major player in the mobile user interface market. Nuance is well-positioned, as UI innovations such as Siri demonstrate speech is a critical component of creating a differentiated mobile experience. WHERE also got a $135M with PayPal. Other significant acquisitions include Telenav/Goby, nSphere/Peekaboo, FigCard/eBay, and Mobiquity/KMDM.
- Our big location/check-in player shows progress: SCVNGR, Bostonís big location/check-in player is showing significant progress, integrating its service with a new social buying platform called LevelUp that suddenly seems to be everywhere in Boston. While itís a competitive space, SCVNGR arguably offers the most in terms of an entertaining, game-like user experience versus the approaches of FourSquare and Facebook.
- Jana goes global: While I was personally fond of the TXTEagle name, the company changed its name to Jana and took a huge $8.5 million round to scale. Jana already has huge reach into the billing systems of 230 mobile operators in 80 countries. Nathan Eagle, the young entrepreneur who runs Jana, is both brilliant and socially responsible. Many of us in the Boston community are curious to see just how big Janaís reach can get, and if it will translate into financial and social impact.
- Energy/funding across the mobile ecosystem: Up-and-coming companies such as Jana, Runkeeper, Aislebuyer, and UTest received major funding rounds to scale their successful business models. SpringPad and HeyWire are also seeing major traction. It seemed like every week a mobile startup was funded, so that should lead to many more big developments in 2012.
- Verizonís Waltham Technology Center and other big players: Verizon's new 60,000 square foot technology center in Waltham is already drawing companies and innovators from all over the world to test and develop advanced wireless solutions. Companies already participating in research and new product development out of the center include Cisco, Ericsson, Samsung, and Alcatel-Lucent. Meanwhile, Microsoft has been generous in hosting mobile and startup events out of its Cambridge NERD facility, and theyíve generated a lot of buzz and energy. Weíve seen Google continue to expand its presence, and weíre excited about a rumored Amazon Boston office as they become increasingly important in mobile.
- mHealth Boston: Boston is positioning itself as a major center of the mHealth ecosystem. FitnessKeeper (who makes the popular RunKepper app), Zeo (Sleep Manager), Vitality (Glowcaps), LoseIt, and AgaMatrix (WaveSense Diabetes Manager) are examples of local innovators. Additionally, Boston-based MobiHealthNews has established itself as a (if not the) leading industry news source.
As mentioned, the funding has been flowing, so I am anticipating a big 2012 in the mobile scene. Iíve selected a few Boston mobile startups to watch out for in 2012.
My 8 startups to watch for in 2012 : These are companies in an early stage of development that I view as having particularly promising concepts (in no particular order):
- Kinvey (cloud backend for mobile)
- Tap Lab (mobile location-based gaming)
- Vivox (integrated comms)
- Modo Labs (mobile middleware)
- Session M (apps customer engagement)
- Apptopia (Sedo for mobile apps)
- Ginger.io (contextual mobile data analysis for health and wellness)
- Blue Train Mobile (mobile CMS)
Thanks to Matt Gross from Mobile Monday Boston, and Miriam Rich for their valuable input into this post.
Ted Chan is Founder and CEO of Upward Moblity and Noyo, two companies in the mobile education market, and a management consultant in telecom, media, and technology at Boston-based CSMG (www.csmg-global.com). Twitter: @upwardmobility
The author is solely responsible for the content.
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