Dashwire CEO Ford Davidson Talks Financing, Apple Vs. Android, and the Future of Smartphone Syncing in a “Market That’s on Fire”

8/18/10

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has more restrictions and tougher competition, to the freedom and flexibility of the Android platform. And consumers have followed. In the last quarter, Android phones outsold the flagship Apple iPhone for the first time. This has changed the game, according to Davidson.

“Apple is continuing to do cool things, but for developers Android is the new hot thing—If you’re a developer, you can pick up any Android phone,” he says. “The good news is, customers with iTunes are used to paying for things—they can just add it to their iTunes account. Most apps downloaded through the Android market are free. Apple has the benefit right now in that they have users who expect to pay, as opposed to users in the Google app store.”

While a larger playfield with more players is better, in many respects, for mobile companies and consumers, Davidson says, it also presents new challenges—like how to make your service or app stand out among the crowd.

“As these markets fill up with content, the question that users going into those markets have is, what are the right apps for me? And where do I find them?” Davidson says. “There are so many apps that are available, and software is really going to be the real driver of that differentiation.” And having more choices puts the consumer in a very powerful position. “For the end user, being able to discover software to help make that phone experience for them is becoming more and more important,” he adds.

And while Davidson says he “would love to do an iPhone app” for Dashwire, it’s not looking to be an immediate possibility with the current competitive climate.

“We haven’t been able to do one up until this point because Apple limits the developer services,” he says. “And because they have Mobile Me, there’s a lot of question around ‘will Apple let it into the app store?’”

Nevertheless, Davidson says the company has carved out a niche for itself in the wireless software marketplace—one that may even keep customers coming back, and add significant value to service providers they work with.

“What happens with smartphones that is really crazy is the device returns are huge—about 30 percent. And the biggest issue with that is that there’s usually nothing wrong with the phone. The sales person got them all excited about all the things they could do, but then they got home and they didn’t want to read the instruction manual, or there are too many apps in the app store, and it’s just too confusing,” Davidson says. That’s where Dashwire has an opportunity to clear up the confusion, and help the average consumer customize their device and enjoy its capabilities from day one.

“We’re really focusing on the core areas of the customer’s lifestyle, and the fact that our phone works on the different phone platforms is helping to differentiate us out there,” he says. Because Dashwire’s services are offered on most smartphone devices—except for Apple’s—consumers are able to easily migrate information from their old phone or computer to a new one.

“Dashwire focuses on mobile operators and device manufacturers—as they are continuing to come out with more and more smartphones in their device portfolio, they want a unifying service so that when a customer buys a Blackberry, or an Android, or a Windows phone, they want an app that can work across all of those platforms,” Davidson says. “Phone operators are great customers for us.”

So for the time being, Davidson says Dashwire is going to continue focusing on improving upon what it already does well.

“Our sweet spot is around helping customers start out right with their phone,” he says. “We’re participating in a market that’s on fire, so we’ve got a lot of wonderful opportunities here to help people get the most out of their phone, what their phone offers, and to help them make it more a reflection of them.”

Thea Chard is a correspondent for Xconomy Seattle. You can e-mail her at theachard@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/theachard. Follow @

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