Blog Post

DEMO 2007: Three Neat Mobile Newbies

The last DEMO morning session was made up by presentations from 15 mobile-centric companies — some trying to help devices connect wirelessly, others offering mobile clients for wireless data services. Thankfully none of them pony-showed any celebrities like mobile company Bling Software did yesterday afternoon with a lackluster Barry Bonds appearance.

We wrote about some of the wireless companies throughout the week like DART, Devicescape and Whisher, but here’s three mobile content startups whose demos stuck in my mind from today, and who have all raised fresh funding in the past year:

1). Vringo: I really wanted to dislike this ‘video ringtone’ service — the idea itself isn’t so new, and how much more content are we expecting consumers to buy to personalize their ringtones? But the service is actually an interesting way to help kick-start mobile video sharing. Using a mobile application (only available for Symbian now) friends can use Vringo to show video clips (Vringos) to each other’s phones that play during the ring session — CEO Jonathan Medved, who founded Israel Seed Partners and invested in Israeli startups for over a decade, says the trickiest part of the technology is waking up the phone during the ring. The technology does not use MMS and uses data services, so if you ever try it out make sure you’ve got a data plan.

The year old Israel-based 26-person startup raised $2.35 million in a Series A six months ago from a group of angels and private investors, and is currently working on a Series B round. New funds will have to go into building out more client versions, marketing, and making the service scalable if a lot of users ever start wanting to swap the video tones. The service is in ‘closed beta’ for now and is offering its service for free at this point, but working out the business model — free with ads, subscription, pay for play, or likely a combo.

2). Mobio Networks: Like Vringo’s execs, Mobio’s CEO Ramneek Bhasin, is pretty convinced that the rich client experience has won out over WAP browsing. The Cupertino-based company, which raised $9 million in a Series A led by Storm Ventures and InterWest Partners last year, was showing off its GetMobio downloadable software. The client offers 50 different web-based applications like OpenTable reservations and finding and purchasing movie tickets.

It’s interesting because its an easy way for smaller web sites to go mobile, and less sophisticated phones like the Motorola RAZR and Samsung BLADE can use the simple-enough data application. Like Vringo GetMobio uses data services, so don’t get killed on data charges if you don’t have unlimited data. I wasn’t sure if people were ready to use “Mobile 2.0” quite yet, but Mobio unabashedly uses the term, describing its products as “Mobile 2.0 mash-up applications.”

3). TeleFlip: Unlike Mobio and Vringo, TeleFlip is hinging its service on text messages. The Santa Monica-based three-year-old startup was running its simple email-to-SMS service out of its founder, Guy Botham’s bedroom when a venture firm and a viable business model came calling. Last August the company raised a Series A (size undisclosed) round from GRP Partners in LA, and put CEO Tony Davis in charge of turning the company into a working business. The result is the service they showed off at DEMO, which will be available in March and basically helps average phones without data connections send email and other text-based content to the SMS inbox.

It’s kind of like a Blackberry-style email service for basic phones but relying on the text message inbox. They’re offering a free service for 5,000 messages a month, and plan to offer an ad-based and premium service. One issue, is that you’d better get yourself an unlimited text package, because you’ll be pretty unhappy if you’ve got limited per month texts used up by email spam or unimportant email messages.

14 Responses to “DEMO 2007: Three Neat Mobile Newbies”

  1. ñêà÷àòü áåñïëàòíî ïîðíî êëèïû 3gp ìàëîëåòêè ñåêñ îíëàéí áåñïëàòíî âèäåî îíëàéí áåñïëàòíî ýëåêòðîííàÿ êàðòà ðîññèè ñêà÷àòü èãðó winx sims

  2. I agree that the carriers are creating BIG barriers to entry for mobile web 2.0. I’m developing a business plan for mobile content and can’t afford to get a data plan ($30/month) on top of my existing mobile ($60/month) account!

    Europe and Asia are so far ahead of the US in this regard that something will need to be done to show that the stranglehold carriers have is discouraging innovation, business, and competition.

  3. Interesting – both Vringo and GetMobio betting hard on rich clients. I don’t think the ‘rich client’ has beaten WAP at all. In fact, I think WAP or mobile web is going to only increase in adoption in the next year or two. Have you seen the recent news that AdMob just passed the 1 Billion ads served mark – all on WAP.

    By building a client, you’re putting a bunch of ‘friction’ in front of the user. Yes, there is a perceived value of downloading and installing an application, but with nothing to install, you’ll get more adoption to a new service.

    I’ve been building mobile content/media/games applications for 8 years – from early generation Wap 1.0, SMS, BREW, J2ME and now, for the kind of application we’re building, WAP is the way to go. The browsers are getting better, the networks are getting faster and more and more people are opting in to unlimited data plans. Obviously, this is a debate, but it will surely play out in the next year or so.

  4. Nick Braak

    Ashwin, teleflip does NOT require a data plan. That’s the whole point of it.

    FWIW I have the Sprint “Power Vision” EVDO service with unlimited data for $15 a month.

  5. i am not convinced that the average user is willing to pay 30/40 bucks a month for an unlimited data plan on top of the 40/50 dollars a month for voice. all these applications while “free”, requires data plans that US consumers have not warmed up to.