These are the companies, startups and giants alike, that are changing or could potentially change the mobile landscape in the most profound ways.



photo: Flickr/Foursquare HQ

CEO: Dennis Crowley

Number of employees: More than 130

The business:

Foursquare is a location-based service that helps connect people to places. The app started with check-ins as a game but turned its local information and user data into a recommendation engine. The service also has a feature called Radar that pushes notifications to users when they’re nearby interesting places or friends.

The backstory:

Foursquare was the second location-based service started by Crowley. He sold his first effort, Dodgeball, to Google. Dodgeball, which Google closed in 2009, requires users to text their location to the service, which responded with information on friends and nearby venues. Crowley started Foursquare with Naveen Selvadurai in 2009 as a mobile-app based service designed to help people explore their local surroundings.

The innovation:

Foursquare popularized the idea of check-in services and showed people the utility of a location-based social network. But it wasn’t just for badges and bragging rights. Foursquare was building a sophisticated big data operation that analyzed all the restaurants and businesses a person and their friends visited, and provided recommendations on other places based on their interests, location, time and various other signals. Foursquare takes what it learns about a user and starts matching it to profiles of places.

The plan:

Foursquare is rolling out merchant services, allowing businesses to send free and paid updates to nearby users. For users, it continues to work on being a resource for surfacing and remembering interesting places. There has also been a lot speculation that Foursquare could get into the mobile-payments game at some point.

—Ryan Kim

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  1. Tapit were Winners @ 2012 AIMIA for Best New Service in innovation – NFC

    http://www.mobileawards.com. au/MA2012/entry_details.asp? ID=10757&Category_ID=4852)

  2. Check out this slide deck titled “A Catalog of Mobile Device Innovations”


  3. Surya Narayanan Tuesday, September 18, 2012

    Sadly you have not looked at the emerging markets hard enough. You would have found very interesting examples including Safaricom’s m-pesa which is by the larger than Western Union Money Transfer. Please look to create a more inclusive list..

    1. It would have been good to consider the social impact of innovations. There are so many innovative mobile companies out there, but if they don’t make people’s lives better then do they really answer the “so what?” test. M-PESA is a great example of a mobile innovation that has changed millions of people’s lives and is helping to create a vibrant mobile ecosystem. Its influence can be seen in every mobile wallet/banking/payments initiative the world over.
      If you don’t know M-PESA, read this: http://mobithinking.com/country-guides-home/guide-mobile-web-kenya

  4. all of your links to the “Mobile 15″ are broken

    1. Thanks, this is fixed.

  5. Alcatel – Lucent and Nokia? You’ve got to be kidding me…Why not add RIM and MySpace too..

  6. With Windows 8 just around the corner its bizarre that Microsoft didn’t make the list.

  7. Have you ever heard of republic wireless?

  8. I did not realize GigiOm was this desperate for money

  9. Including Nokia and **not** Qualcomm renders your list laughable, and from the entire staff to boot ? No need reading any further and further questions the value of anything Gigaom.com?

    Jim M

  10. Great innovation! Glad to see Thinfilm on the short list!

  11. What an amazing story. I had the luck to meet all of the team yesterday, and today at #SEMICONEuropa http://twitter.com/SEMICONEuropa here in Dresden, Germany

  12. Amazing folks – currently in Dresden at http://Twitter.com/SEMICONEuropa – had the pleasure to talk to them, and learn more about this amazing product. Well deserved!!!

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