5 Things to Watch at Mobile Madness: Mobile Mafia, Facebook’s Future, & More

3/14/12Follow @gthuang

Mobile Madness is here at last. Xconomy’s fourth annual mobile conference is set for today at 1 pm, at Microsoft NERD in Kendall Square, Cambridge. The event is sold out with a sizable waiting list that we are trying to manage as you read this. We are looking forward to an unprecedented crowd and a really fun cast of speakers.

A quick preview of five things to watch for this afternoon:

1. Jason Jacobs from FitnessKeeper will set the table with some thoughts on the state of the Boston mobile ecosystem and what entrepreneurs are working on. He will then moderate a panel on next-generation consumer apps. We’ll hear a bit about what’s coming down the pike from HeyWire (social communications) and Springpad (digital organizer and notebooks). And we’ll hear some lessons from the former head of mobile products for TripAdvisor, now with mobile marketing startup Jana, and the head of LoseIt, the wildly popular weight-loss app. Together these companies represent a big slice of Boston’s consumer mobile future.

2. I recently dropped in on Seth Priebatsch from SCVNGR and LevelUp, who will join Bob Hower’s panel on mobile payments and commerce. LevelUp says it has 100,000-plus users, making it the second largest mobile payment network in the U.S. behind Starbucks, interestingly. The broader shift to mobile technologies is important, Priebatsch told me, because it provides a great opportunity to cut out the middlemen in payments. It’ll be interesting to hear how LevelUp, AisleBuyer, Paydiant, and others are advancing the state of the art in mobile commerce.

3. A special session on “Boston’s mobile mafia” will explore how mobile companies of the region’s recent past—like m-Qube, Quattro Wireless, Third Screen Media, Enpocket, Where, and Skyhook—are interrelated, what their leaders are up to now, and what lessons they bring to the broader tech community. For example, Lars Albright, a veteran of m-Qube, Quattro, and Apple, is working on a new startup, SessionM, that grew out of his various experiences in mobile ad-tech. (“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”)

4. What will Facebook’s mobile advertising strategy look like, and how will it affect mobile tech companies? That’s one big question that Michael Schreck’s panel on mobile content and marketing will address. We’ll hear from Celtra, Fiksu, Nexage, and Zmags on this topic and others—including tips for marketers on reaching tablets and other devices, and some increasingly important privacy issues.

5. Jennifer Lum will talk about her de-stealthed company, Adelphic Mobile, as part of our Startup Showcase. Adelphic is using interesting (if still a tad mysterious) technology to try to make mobile ads more relevant and targeted to specific audiences, thereby benefiting advertisers, publishers, and developers. The other startups giving pitches are ByteLight (indoor location positioning), Crashlytics (mobile-app debugging), Kinvey (mobile backend-as-a-service), and ViziApps (app development without coding).

We’ll have another special guest at the event: Our Xconomy colleague and chief correspondent Wade Roush is in town from San Francisco. Wade was the lead organizer of Mobile Madnesses past, and he has lent his analysis to some current themes in the industry, which you can check out here.

We look forward to seeing you at NERD this afternoon…be ready.

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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