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Charge up That PDA: Mobility Application Field to Get Bigger

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RISMEDIA, Feb. 9, 2008-(MCT)-Barnabas Kendall’s name might not sound familiar. But he’s one of the many who are staking their careers on the mobile market.

Kendall is a 29-year-old from Aliso Viejo, Calif., who in 2004 began developing two mobile products as chief technology officer for Greenlight Wireless: Skweezer, which tweaks websites for optimized viewing on mobile devices such as phones, and Advertizer, a mobile advertising service.

Now Kendall is going out on his own as an independent technology consultant to help companies adapt their businesses to work better with the mobile Web.

“More Americans are becoming accustomed to using their phone for more than just talking,” Kendall said.

Today, applications like weather forecasts, stock tickers, games, Web browsers, video and music players, money managers and banking services are appearing on mobile phones, navigation devices, watches, cameras and more.

According to the Nielsen Mobile measurement service, 9 million consumers downloaded an application on their phone in the third quarter of 2006. That grew to 18 million in the same period in 2007. Revenue from mobile applications rose from $118 million in the second quarter of 2007 to $146 million by the third.

Nielsen’s numbers show that the largest publisher of mobile applications profiting from those downloads was Aliso Viejo’s Networks in Motion, which took home the largest share of carrier revenue, 27% in the second quarter of 2007. NIM’s mobile location services power Verizon Wireless’ VZ Navigator product, which delivers driving directions and other information to cell phones.

It was while driving in 1994 that Lee Hancock began pursuing the mobile market. He wanted information about nearby places to eat, sleep and be entertained. Hancock started Go2 Media in Santa Ana, which lets users find location-specific information by typing a city, ZIP code or address into the company’s mobile Website or by using an “auto locate” feature available on some phones.

“The mobile market space is relatively small now,” Hancock said. “But it’s going to get big.”

Bill Stone is also banking on mobile’s growth. In November, he became CEO of Handango, which labels itself “the world’s leading provider of smart-phone content.” (He was previously president of the now defunct Amp’d Mobile.) Stone lives part-time in Handango’s headquarters of Austin, Texas, and in Ladera Ranch, Calif.

Stone said he sees more advanced phones penetrating more and more of the market- which allows for the growth of more advanced applications and functions.

“The market is not just road warriors; it includes active moms. In Ladera Ranch, I see active moms carrying Treos and BlackBerrys and iPhones, using the devices for more than just phones,” Stone said.

He sees mobile applications as achieving one of two things-saving time or killing time. He said the key is “making it easy for the customer.” And technology designers such as Kendall, the consultant, will try to do just that to attract more customers to the mobile market.

“I use my laptop less and rely on my phone more,” Kendall said. “I think that trend will accelerate as phones get better.”

© 2008, The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.).
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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