Mass Mobile Month Is Here!

3/1/10Follow @wroush

March 2010 is Mass Mobile Month, a celebration of mobile technology innovation in New England. Who says so? Xconomy and the 22 other local organizations that have banded together to highlight the remarkable string of mobile-related events happening around town in March. Actually, the fun started in mid-February and will continue into early April—but today, the 1st of March, is the perfect moment to call attention to the initiative, and to remind everyone about the wealth of learning networking opportunities coming up in the next few weeks.

The roster of Mass Mobile Month events this month is long and growing. If you check out the full list, you’ll see that there’s something for everyone, from an anime film screening to a showcase of UK mobile companies to a scholarly meeting on virtual and augmented reality technology. And of course, we hope you’ll sign up to attend Xconomy’s own big event, Mobile Madness: The New Future of Computing, set for March 9.

There are two big mobile events happening this very night. Unfortunately they’re at the same time, so you have to choose one or the other. The first is a screening of “Summer Wars,” a much-talked-about Japanese anime film about cell-phone-toting teens; the screening is on the MIT campus and is sponsored by MIT’s Comparative Media Studies program.

The second is the 25th Web Innovators Group meeting at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge. One of the three “main dish” presentations at WebInno will be given by Kathleen Gilroy, CEO of Cambridge, MA-based Swift Mobile, and two of the “side dish” companies are also mobile startups, Textaurant and GeoLenz. (I’m scheduled to moderate a panel discussion after the main show, featuring three serial Web entrepreneurs from the Boston area: Performable’s David Cancel, Gather.com’s Tom Gerace, and Full Circle Media’s Steven Kane.)

Back when we were setting up the Mass Mobile Month effort a few weeks ago, I briefed the organizer of the Web Innovators Group meetings, Venrock’s David Beisel, about our plans and suggested that as one way of highlighting the month, he might make a special effort to recruit speakers from mobile startups. He enthusiastically agreed and was able to include not one but three mobile companies.

To make things even cooler, Gilroy suggested modifying Swift Mobile’s existing apps, which are designed for event producers and convention center operators, to create a new app highlighting the month’s events. That’s what the company has now done, and we’re expecting the Mass Mobile Month app to be approved by Apple any minute now. Gilroy plans to demonstrate the app tonight at Web Inno, whether or not it’s been approved.

As a final bonus for the inaugural day of Mass Mobile Month, we’ve got a fascinating guest essay in the Xconomist Forum section from Jonathan Michaeli, former vice president of marketing for Boston-area startups Gather.com and PanRaven. It’s a close look at Research in Motion’s BlackBerry line of mobile devices, which still have a leading share of the smartphone market but are widely seen as less innovative than competing devices from Apple and makers of Android phones. Michaeli argues that RIM has a window of time—but only a narrow one—in which to reinvigorate the BlackBerry brand, and that Boston area companies like Vlingo and Nuance Communications may be able to teach the company a thing or two.

I hope you’ll attend one of tonight’s events and check out many more of the month’s great happenings. You can also help spread the word about Mass Mobile Month via your blog, Twitter, or old-fashioned word of mouth. The hash tag is #massmobmonth. If your company or organization wants to become a supporter of the initiative, there’s still time; just write to me at wroush@xconomy.com. See you around town!

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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