This past weekend I had the pleasure of being a judge at the grand finale to Android DevCamp, held at the eBay/PayPal campus in San Jose. Over 25 teams worked feverishly to produce cool Android apps, many with payments integrated to PayPal. My fellow judges included Thorsten Claus from T-Ventures (part of Telekom, parent of t-mobile), Tom Chiu & Anu Nigam of Sand Hill Angels, and Jamie Allen, who has deep telecom experience at Telecordia, Tandem Telecom and Uniphone, an early mobile VoIP startup.
We were all impressed as to how far the teams came over a weekend. It shows how far the tools and APIs have come for mobile developers. The core concept of the Lean Startup model is to launch fast into the web (fixed or mobile) and iterate quickly based on customer response. What they came up with in a mere three days was remarkable, some even almost ready for commercialization.
In the old mobile world of just three years ago, this was impossible. Apps were built in Java, and varied by handset, Java implementation, region and carrier. Once past those land mines, the apps had to be approved by carriers, a tortuous and random process at best. Pilgrimages had to be made to the temples of the old mobile business, such as 3GSM (now Mobile World Congress) in Barcelona, Taiwan Inc. to meet MediaTek and its kin at the low-cost end of the business, and of course Helsinki to meet Nokia. (I have been there, in the dead of winter, and have seen HEL frozen over.)
That old world is now swept away by the onslaught of Apple and Android. Who woulda thunk that the walled gardens would come down so fast?
This revolution will not be televised. It will be texted, IM’ed and Instagrammed.
We gave out a number of awards. The audience also voted, as did the sponsors and organizers. The VC judges came last. We found more companies of interest than awards, so we kicked in some bucks on our own and handed out three Judge’s Awards. You can read about the winners here. You can see photos of them here. Some of my favorites:
- Coupal was yet another couponing idea, this one designed for mobile and inherently viral
- ZipTip joined the Uber(cab) idea of really simple payment transfers, in this case for tipping
- Disaster Radio is an incredible mashup which combines Google maps with disaster videos and info (eg of brush fires), a much better resource for affected parties & first responders than TV and two-way radio. The Android Tablets come to the rescue, literally! Imagine what happens next with citizen reporting on the spreading fire integrated with geo- and time-coding
- ASL extends mobile to the hearing challenged, adding American Sign Language communication
- Chronometer uses the analog clock as a creative day-planning tool
The most disruptive could be a restaurant dish recommender, going below the restaurant down to the dish and rating them – developing a trend started with Foodspotter to develop a Social Internet of Things.
If you are a developer wishing to join the mobile revolution, I recommend you find your way to next year’s event.