Thursday, April 2, 2009

You can do more with Steve Jobs and $100 million than you can without either

One of the most amazing aspects of the iPhone is its ability to attract developers and applications. For perspective, Apple sold 11,000,000 3G iPhones in 2008, while 500,000,000 applications were downloaded.

Since smart phones are really powerful and compact hand-held computers, it should come as no surprise that users wish to develop or install new applications. Why did things seem so different before the iPhone?

In 2001, Kevin Short of UNH founded one of the first companies to build a successful business downloading and playing music on cell phones. Preparing software for the cell phones was very difficult. “There was a standard for the Java phones” recalls Short, “but there was enough wiggle room in the standard that no two phones were alike. We had to develop a new app for every phone. This was a bankrupt yourself situation. “

Short remains proud of his company’s technical achievements, starting with his propriety compression and transmission scheme. “We had the first touch screen phones, but the carriers wouldn’t even acknowledge it as a phone unless it had a keyboard. We also developed the capability in the software to select the best available network, but the management brought in by the V.C.'s made us drop that approach.”

Kevin’s company, originally named “Chaoticom,” later “Groove Mobile,” received its seed funding from the eCoast Angels and Kodiak Venture Partners. Groove Mobile was sold in 2008 and operates today as LiveWire Mobile.

As the original Chairman of Chaoticom, I take my hat off to Steve Jobs for taking a proprietary transmission scheme, touch screens, and network selection software and transforming the IT and communications industries, if not the world.

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