In Verve Wireless, Founders Create a Mobile Technology Platform and a Lifeline for Local News

10/6/10Follow @bvbigelow

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thinking, “There’s got to be a better way to reach people.”

In what Howe calls “a harmonic convergence of people,” they joined forces with Mitri Abou-Rizk, who had led the development of several mobile software applications at the Nokia Research Center in Boston, and Greg Hallinan, who had started his career in strategic marketing at Intel. The business was scattered among them, with Howe in the Philadelphia area and Kenney working first in the Washington D.C. area and later in Encinitas, a coastal suburb about 26 miles north of San Diego.

With Abou-Rizk leading the technology development, the Verve founders created a Web-based platform that enables broadcasters and newspaper publishers of any size to offer news and video that can be accessed by a wide variety of wireless devices.

newspapers“Mobile is just hard,” says Greg Hallinan, Verve’s marketing vice president. “There are not just three Internet browsers like you see in desktop computers. There are hundreds of handsets, with dozens of different operating systems and scores of mobile Web browsers.” While Verve’s technology works with older feature phones, Hallinan says users get more user functionality with 3G and better devices. He explains that the technology hosted on Verve’s computer servers can identify the type of mobile device as it connects, and serves local news and ads in a compatible format for that device. Increasingly, though, users are downloading apps that allow them to easily access news from specific media partners.

The Associated Press has been working with Verve since 2008, using Verve’s proprietary publishing platform to support its Mobile News Network. (The Associated Press also is one of Verve’s institutional investors.) The company provides similar support for The San Diego Union-Tribune, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Sacramento Bee, Philly.com, The Miami Herald, and other major metropolitan daily newspapers. Verve’s software as a service also enables media companies to serve … Next Page »

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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