Top 25 Hottest Global Mobile Companies

hot-25

To identify the most promising global mobile companies Informilo asked some of the most active investors around the globe to nominate and evaluate companies outside their own portfolios. Some are well-known, others are below the radar but unlikely to stay that way for long. Read on to discover Informilo's 2012 picks for the mobile top 25. The companies are also featured in the 32-page print magazine Informilo produced for the Mobile World Congress, which is taking place in Barcelona February 27-March 1.

 

 

 

 

Rovio

(Rovio.com)

Espoo, Finland

What it does

Developer of casual games across multiple platforms – iOS, Android, Windows Phone, OSX, Windows, Facebook

Why it’s hot

Angry Birds, Rovio’s breakthrough game, hasn’t just made it on to multiple platforms — it's now part of the collective consciousness. Launched in December 2009, the game has been downloaded more than 500m times and has spawned real-world stores to sell fluffy versions of its grumpy avians and pigs as well as apparel. Last year Rovio scored a $42m funding round; CEO Mikael Hed hasn’t ruled out more funding before an IPO. 

 

 

Shazam

(shazam.com)

London, UK

What it does

Mobile app to identify music

Why it’s hot

Bar-goers have since 2002 been holding their handsets up to speakers so the Shazam app can identify the music they’re listening to. Since then it has morphed into a powerful marketing tool: the user can now not only to identify the music in, say, an ad, but also buy the goods featured in the ad, concert tickets, the track itself, etc. In June 2011 it raised $32m in funding; it now also connects users of mobile devices with interactive TV ads and boasts 180 million users.

 

 

Foursquare

(foursquare.com)

New York, New York, USA

What it does

Mobile location services incorporating game-type elements

Why it’s hot

Launched in 2009, this start-up has racked up a community of some 15m people around the world, all broadcasting their locations to their social-network friends. In January Foursquare said its users had checked in more than 1.5bn times. Foursquare recently added support for NFC to its Android app, which should help it grow its reach and ubiquity.

 

Square

(squareup.com)

San Francisco, CA, USA

What it does

Offers a free credit-card reader and a mobile app that allows even the smallest retailer to take card payments

Why it’s hot

Co-founded by Twitter boss Jack Dorsey and with $168m in funding from Silicon Valley heavy hitters including Sequoia, Square says it is on track to process $2bn worth of transactions a year. It collects 2.75% per swipe on cards and deposits the cash in the retailer’s account the next day; Squarelooks set to carve out a very lucrative space for itself.

 

Spotify

(spotify.com)

Stockholm, Sweden

What it does

Streaming music service with close social media interactivity and mobile apps

Why it’s hot

Allows users to stream music from the big music players and smaller independent labels using either a free, ad-supported service or a premium ad-free service. Now requires a Facebook account, so has enormous potential reach; recently declared itself a “platform,” encouraging developers to write apps for it. Users can share playlists, driving social crowdsourcing for events big and small; premium users can also access and share music on most mobile devices.

 

Zeptolab

(zeptolab.com)

Moscow, Russia

What it does

Small game developer

Why it’s hot

After Rovio’s Angry Birds became a giant mobile gaming hit, everyone was looking for the Next Big Thing in mobile gaming. Zeptolab’s Cut The Rope seems to fit the bill: it’s been downloaded more than 100m times and in February it announced that it had set itself on the path to riches by signing licensing deals with real-world toy-making giants Hasbro, Mattel and Jakks Pacific as well as with apparel maker LF USA.

 

Xiaomi Tech

(xiaomi.com – Chinese website)

China

What it does

Mobile developer

Why it’s hot

The Chinese start-up, which offers a customized version of the Android platform, announced last summer that it was launching its own high-spec, low-cost handset. With the huge Chinese consumer market at its fingertips through its orders from China Telecom and China Unicom, Xiaomi can afford to sit tight and say, as it did recently, that it's comfortable posting losses for the next two years. Well, it did raise $90m in funding at the end of last year, taking its total financing to $131m.

 

Whatsapp

(whatsapp.com)

Silicon Valley, USA

What it does

Mobile user-to-user messaging app available for most platforms

Why it’s hot

Sitting squarely in the same space as BlackBerry’s Messenger app Apple’s Messages, this app, which bypasses SMS charges, has the potential to be disruptive both to the cellular networks and the two hardware vendors it challenges by taking the concept across all platforms. Still small, with funding of $8m from Silicon Valley heavyweight Sequoia, this is one to watch.

 

Flipboard

(flipboard.com)

Palo Alto, USA

What it does

Aggregates content from social media and web links into a visually-pleasing magazine-style format for the iPad and iPhone

Why it’s hot

With huge brands such as Oprah getting on board to create her own channel for subscribers to follow, the potential reach for this beautifully realized app is huge. There’s a lot of talk about it potentially revolutionizing or even rescuing the publishing industry, though for now its user base remains small at around 5m and its business model is unclear. However, it’s a darling of Silicon Valley and the chatterati and has thus far attracted funding of $60.5m.

 

Bump

(bu.mp)

Mountain View, CA, USA

What it does

Allows mobile phones (iOS and Android only) to exchange data by bumping together. Data goes via Bump’s servers rather than flow directly between the phones

Why it’s hot

Any tech start-up with Netscape founder Marc Andreessen as a new recruit to the board is going to attract attention, never mind the fact that is has raised $19.9m in funding since its birth in 2008. Initially buzzy for being a cool, Silicon Valley way to exchange business cards, it now also can exchange photos.

Getjar

(getjar.com)

Vilnius, Lithuania

What it does

Provides a cross-platform marketplace allowing mobile users to download premium apps for free

Why it’s hot

Apps that other marketplaces charge good money for? Getjar monetizes by being a paid discovery service. Now it’s launching a loyalty program that will reward users with virtual gold coins they can spend on premium apps and services. CEO Ilja Laurs is excited about the potential for his virtual currency, talking of bringing on board other partners outside the mobile space.

 

Lookout Security

(mylookout.com)

San Francisco, California, USA

What it does

Security software – for mobile platforms

Why it’s hot

Security is a big problem with the laissez-faire Android Marketplace, where a rogue app can do a lot of damage before Google yanks it. Although this is less of an issue with the more closely-curated Apple App Store, it's still clear that security on mobile devices is important. Lookout uses flashy graphics and always-up-to-date threat assessments to scare the living daylights out of its users.

 

Enterproid

(divide.com)

New York, USA

What it does

Its Divide platform allows users to split their personal and work stuff by creating separate profiles on their Android devices

Why it’s hot

With the increasing focus on consumerization, businesses will want to manage the devices their workers choose while allowing them the freedom to make their own choices about hardware. At the moment it’s Android-only, but the founders plan to move on to iOS and Windows Phone, and, with the charmingly old-fashioned idea of charging a fee per user, Divide should, if it takes off, be able to make money.

 

Hailo

(hailocab.com)

London, UK

What it does

Matches London’s iconic black cabs with passengers via an Android/iOS app

Why it’s hot

Rather than charging a fixed subscription as London’s traditional radio cab networks do, the app takes a fee of “about” 10% of the fare. It also aims to build a social community of London’s cabbies, who can exchange information about traffic, etc., and provides tools to help drivers record their earnings. Today this is small, but if it works in London, it could work in cities around the world.

 

Urban Airship

(urbanairship.com)

Portland, OR, USA

What it does

Content delivery mechanism for apps, delivering push notifications and in-app purchases

Why it’s hot

This uses not one but two methods of monetization: tiered purchase levels and small commissions from each in-app purchase. With funding of $21.6m on board and a potentially huge marketplace among the millions of bedroom app developers as well as the big boys, this is one to keep an eye on.

 

Neul

(neul.com)

Cambridge, UK

What it does

Uses free “white space” spectrum to provide secure wireless communication

Why it’s hot

The demand for fast and reliable mobile connectivity makes this Silicon Fen start-up particularly interesting. With $12.8m of funding, this has the potential to become a powerful content delivery network for everything from updating automotive firmware to tracking goods on the move and electronic media delivery.

 

Fon

(fon.com)

Madrid, Spain

What it does

Delivers “crowd-sourced Wi-Fi” through users sharing some of their home Wi-Fi to create a mesh of publicly-available connectivity

Why it’s hot

What gives Fon clout is its wide penetration and partnerships with big telecoms players including BT, Belgacom and MTS as well as other partners around the world. It’s been around since 2006; investors include Google, Skype and Sequoia.

 

Wrapp

(wrap.com)

Stockholm, Sweden

What it does

Social giving app

Why it’s hot

Wrapp has just raised a further $5m in funding from backers including Skype founder Niklas Zennström to add to the $5.5m it had previously raised. Still low-key and in very few countries, this social-giving app, which notifies users of friends’ upcoming birthdays and lets them buy virtual gift cards and do joint gifting, could scale impressively once it breaks out of Sweden.

 

Frogtek

(frogtek.org)

Spain, Mexico and Colombia

What it does

For-profit social enterprise provides mobile software for small shops in developing world economies to help them grow their businesses

Why it’s hot

Much of the developing world is bypassing fixed infrastructure and going straight to mobile, providing a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs to market directly to both consumers and B2B. Frogtek’s software brings tiny shops into the 21st century and helps them avoid the “poverty penalty.” With 40m shops in its target territories serving 4bn people, the potential to scale and to do good is impressive.

 

Storm8

(storm8.com)

Redwood Shores, California, USA

What it does

Develops games for Android and iOS

Why it’s hot

With revenues breaking $1m a day during a promotion and 210m downloads as of August and counting, this is a reminder that casual social gaming is by no means a casual proposition.

 

Instagram

(instagram.com)

San Francisco, CA, USA

What it does

iOS social photography app

Why it’s hot

In just two years the faux-vintage Instagram look has taken over social feeds as users upload thousands of photographs each day. The app is free to download; users pay for additional features and filters. Brands love it, opening up lucrative partnership potential for the business.

 

TinyCo

(tinyco.com)

San Francisco, CA, USA

What it does

Makes bite-sized casual mobile games designed to be enjoyed five minutes at a time

Why it’s hot

All the usual good stuff about mobile social gaming: huge reach, frictionless payment systems for in-game enhancements, but additionally in May 2011 the company launched a $5m investment fund, TinyFund, to help support mobile game developers – many of whom could feed into its own ecosystem further down the track.

 

Pocketgems

(pocketgems.com)

San Francisco, CA, USA

What it does

Free-to-play mobile casual game developer for iOS and Android

Why it’s hot

With more than 60m downloads, that’s a lot of users being tempted to make in-game purchases. The big boys of Silicon Valley are in on the funding: so far it has raised $5m from Sequoia Capital and former eBay big cheese Michael Dearing.

 

Pops

(getpo.ps)

Tel Aviv, Israel

What it does

Allows Android users to personalize alerts for new email and from social networks

Why it’s hot

Never underestimate the desire of users to make their devices more personal. This Israeli company, founded less than a year ago (April 2011) has $1.5m in funding under its belt and the huge ecosystem of Android to reach into.

 

Appsfire

(appsfire.com)

Paris, France

What it does

Discovery service for Android and iOS with social elements

Why it’s hot

As well as leveraging the viral, social possibilities of getting users to share awareness of their favourite apps, Appsfire has launched App Booster, which aims to help developers maintain their users’ engagement with their apps. It also has an ad unit for the iPhone that lets developers start marketing apps before they launch.

 

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