MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS, BARCELONA, SPAIN: Last night, Monday, 16 February 2009, saw the MobileMonday Peer Awards event being held at the beautiful Palau de la Música Catalana and it was great to see the level of innovation on display. These awards honour innovative startups active in mobile technology or startups with a mobile product.
was well-attended, with nearly a thousand people attending to hear three-minute pitches from the 20 shortlisted finalists. Other than the ditsy MC, Bena Roberts from GoMoNews.com
, the Powerpoint glitches and the constant chatter from the attendees, it was great to see the level of innovation on display.
We had a 20-minute keynote from Ansii Vanjoki, the EVP for markets at Nokia. He gave some amazing insight as to how Nokia sees the future, with the key concept being the "convergence of coordinates and IP addresses presented in an abstract called map" - hence the acquisition of Navteq in 2008.
At the MobileMonday Peer Awards, 2009 Mobile World Congress, Barcelona, Spain.
The context of time, place, people and desired activity provide opportunities for application and service developers to make mobile devices far more intelligent and useful. This is supported by the announcement yesterday of the Ovi store
, where content and applications can be published for Symbian Series 40 and 60 devices.
Some of his quotable quotes include, "I hate the term smartphone. A phone is a very stupid thing", and "Youngsters are hanging in the web".
First up were the Early Stage Startups. The winners in this category were:
A service that provides job opportunities and information to the lowest levels of society in India. It has a job opportunity gathering engine that matches these with people looking for work. The service is available via SMS, USSD, WAP and web. One of the key drivers is the gridlock and travel time issues experienced in cities such as Bangalore, and the need to find work closer to home. Breaking the poverty cycle can be achieved by providing easier and more relevant access to job information. This has great potential in South Africa and Africa.
Probably the most exciting of the services seen this year, Orbster has a location-based game called GPSMission (www.gpsmission.com). It allows anyone to create a GPS-based game via their online interface and then track the progress of each player via their Java application, iPhone app, Facebook Application, WAP and websites. These games can be scavenger hunts, historical timetravels, crime and mystery stories and guides. Very smart.
The Emerging Startups section was for companies that had more of a history in offering their services. The winners were:
A firm favourite with geeks, Fring allows IM and social network consolidation plus file- and image-sharing across 1000 devices. It is achieving nearly 500 000 signups per month and seem to have cracked this space. We need to get the SA numbers above the current 5000 or so Fringsters.
If Orbster were the most exciting, then PopCatcher is the smartest of the services I saw. It has taken the concept of the old-fashioned cassette tape and given it some brains. PopCatcher is an application that records the audio streams from FM radio - it then truncates the stream into songs by removing adverts and talking and saves these songs into the phone's memory. It says that it is not breaking any copyright laws as it is not downloading the music, and it is intended for personal use. It closes the loop by including ID3 tags that is used to induce the full track or album purchase from online or mobile music stores. If only we had decent online music stores in SA...
If Orbster were the most exciting and PopCatcher the smartest, then Unkasoft was the most entertaining pitch. The CEO did this very odd one-man show in which he adopted a number of different personas - with the finale being a tiger doing a barrel roll across the small stage - to rapturous applause and hooting from the gallery. Other than the entertainment value, I cannot really comment on what exactly it does, because it wasn't really clear. Something about advergaming and changing of applications 'on-the-fly'. Can't say I agree with the judges on this one.
A final note came from one of the sponsors - the @22Barcelona District - a high tech and media hub that is being created in a previously industrial area. Looks great if you are keen to start your European operations in the next few years. Take a look at www.22barcelona.com
More from Barcelona tomorrow. Also, follow me on Twitter - @angusrobinson
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