IPO Mafias, BODM and Brands Born From the U.S. Election: Three Mobile Trends Starting to Unfold

With more than one month of 2012 down and still two weeks to go until the largest mobile and gaming industry trade shows — Mobile World Congress and Game Developers Conference — here are three trends that are starting to unfold and should define the year of mobile technology.

  1. The rise of BODM (build once, deploy many) platforms

    Mobile platform fragmentation is growing — the broad range of platforms currently encompasses iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Bada, Symbian, Kindle and Nook, just to name a few. The result has been a wave of “build once, deploy many” platforms to create and distribute mobile applications, which will continue to grow in popularity as developers and content creators simply forgo the onerous task of building something unique for each mobile platform.

    According to a 2011 Nielsen Smartphone analytics report, Android users spend nearly an hour a day interacting with apps and the Web on their phones, with apps (67 percent) accounting for nearly twice the amount of time as the Web (33 percent). Bearing this consumption profile in mind, the economics of mobile content doesn’t encourage investment in new mobile development platforms as long as monetization doesn’t scale with these costs. In other words, developers won’t want to spend more on developing their app while the revenue they bring in is modestly incremental or flat.

    Among the most well-known platforms are PhoneGap, Spaceport.io (a.k.a. Siblingz, Inc.) for games and Appcelerator, the latter of which has already had more than 30,000 apps built using its platform. The approach of some of these services is that they enable developers to unlock the value of mobile web development with native app wrappers. However, a more challenging platform fragmentation problem has been largely ignored: unlocking app development for non-technical consumers and independent content creators through a compelling graphical user interface (GUI).

    Presently, non-technical content creators are disenfranchised from mobile app development unless they invest, usually unprofitably, in mobile web and app development services, or they learn to code outright.

    One company, kleverbeast, is tackling this challenge. Having already signed up prominent beta enterprise customers and non-technical content creators, kleverbeast is empowering digital app publishing across iOS, Android, and other emerging platforms with a compelling native user experience for their app owners’ audiences. The unique technology and market strategy has helped kleverbeast address mobile platform fragmentation, not just for developers, but also for the benefit of the average consumer.

    This new breed of BODM companies will proliferate in 2012, and I expect more than a million apps and game titles will choose this path.

  2. Angel funding valve tightens and IPO mafias move into the picture

    Angel investing has risen in popularity over the past two years, but the long tail of unproven individual angels will wane as two events unfold: (1) Many angel-funded start-ups will go belly-up, unable to secure Series A financing or a bridge loan, and (2) institutional investors will adroitly strong-arm early, passive investors.

    Angel dollars widen the capital base available to entrepreneurs in early tech start-ups opening the door to tech innovation. However, many of these new angel investors don’t realize that frequently they will be squeezed down on their ownership percentage in subsequent rounds of financing and face less favorable terms. Many fresh angels have assumed greater risk than is commensurate with their early ownership and expected more upside than they end up getting. Subsequently, some angels won’t have the capital to diversify their portfolios or participate in follow-up rounds of financing.

    Investing can be risky for many fresh angels hungry to keep up with the Joneses and raise their social capital. As these lessons are learned, angel investing will swing back to some rational levels.

    The flipside of this may be the next IPO mafias. Expect a new crop of angel investors to emerge from some of those who benefited from Groupon, Zynga and the much-anticipated Facebook IPO. These IPO angels will take over early-stage deals and fund employees from these successful brands that decide to go it on their own. Ex-Googlers fund ex-Googlers all the time, and the mafias of tech titans will continue to proliferate.

  3. One great new mobile social media company will be born out of the U.S. election cycle of 2012

    In 2008, President Barack Obama was widely praised for his mobile marketing prowess, which many political strategists evangelized as contributing to his victory in the election and igniting the youth base to get out and vote.

    Campaign managers utilized a combination of social and mobile media vehicles, with several businesses benefiting as a result: from ad networks like Quattro Wireless (acquired by Apple in 2010), to start-up companies like CommerceTel, which powered the President’s interactive voice applications.

    Adding weight to this trend are emerging consumer behaviors over social networks and the power of indirect, viral outreach. A study conducted by SocialVibe revealed that “94 percent of social media users of voting age engaged by a political message watched the entire message, and 39 percent of those people shared it with an average of 130 friends.” Powerful, period.

    The power of social technology to empower and persuade won’t be ignored by today’s candidates, and we’ll likely see the emergence of at least one great company out of the 2012 election.

If the rest of this year is anything like the last one, we’re in for a wild ride of fragmentation, consolidation and innovation.

Dinesh Moorjani is the founder and CEO of Hatch Labs, a mobile start-up incubator creating new platforms and applications to improve mobility for the wireless generation.

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