10 Takeaways from Mobile Madness 2013: Ads, Games, M2M, and More

3/20/13Follow @gthuang

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ripped parachute, that changes how you do the stitching in the last 500 feet (so fail fast). “One thing that we need more of in the entrepreneurial community is the willingness to call B.S. and have thicker skins,” he said. “At Swipely, we started the business to do one thing [social shopping] and it was wrong. It was a failure.” Things have turned around, he said, since the company found its business in payments and marketing analytics. One classic misstep: technology solutions in search of a problem. (See mobile payments and check-ins?)

7. Don’t count Microsoft out of the mobile platform wars. Dan Bricklin, of VisiCalc fame (and now mobile/tablet apps), and Charles River VC Izhar Armony both expressed a healthy respect for the software giant. But Armony also said Microsoft’s “DNA is always distribution versus products.” He added, “We’ve moved to an age where product wins, because the distribution channels have been kind of cleared and you can get anything directly to the consumer.”

8. Bricklin had some deep observations about what people will continue to pay for in terms of mobile services—things like communicating and sharing with friends and family. And if there was one general startup theme from the conference, it was that ideas and industries that seem simple, boring, or stupid at the beginning often end up winning in the end.

9. “The trend is there is no trend this year,” said Brian Wong from Kiip (who was born to entertain people at conferences). There is no clear-cut hot topic in gaming, he said, unlike years past when social games or casino games were all the rage. But it’s clear that “gaming is front and center,” said The Tap Lab’s Dave Bisceglia, and continues to drive much of the underlying technology, business models, and usage in mobile. The discussion focused on how to retain users, not just acquire them; Andrew Paradise from Lookout Gaming lamented that “all of the ways that people are doing monetization now actually attack retention.”

10. In terms of advertising, mobile is to the Web what the Web was to TV in the late 1990s, according to our mobile-ad panel. We’re seeing a real blurring of the line between mobile content and ads, said Jumptap’s George Bell, because “advertising can lead to action” in a direct way.

I thought the future of mobile advertising was an appropriate way to end the conference, in part because it showcased five Boston-area companies that are blazing new trails in a resurgent field. And because as mobile advertising goes, so will mobile.

Curt Woodward contributed reporting to this story.

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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  • http://www.EatMedia.com David Cutler

    Thanks Greg! Jonathan Bush of Athenahealth also said that the billion dollar opportunity is empowering doctors to communicate better and buy without restrictions.