Motricity’s Ryan Wuerch on the Post-IPO Game Plan, International Expansion, and the New Wave of Mobile

10/8/10

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for making the switch. The Pacific Northwest is home to two of Motricity’s largest clients, as well as a wealth of technology talent that Wuerch was eager to tap. And with its plans to expand internationally, proximity to Asia was another benefit.

Today less than 10 percent of Motricity’s customer base comes from the international market, according to Wuerch. Its target, he says, is to have 50 percent of its customers coming from Asia, India, and Latin America within five years.

Reaching this goal will require that Motricity stays in front of the market and its fast innovations, which in the mobile industry, is a difficult task. It’s a struggle that Wuerch says keeps him up and night.

“We as a company have to continue to stay ahead of the curve,” he says.

Although no one can be certain where the mobile marketplace will go, Wuerch has his best guess—and he’s using it to guide the company’s efforts moving forward. Mobile, he says, has gone through three stages of evolution. The first emphasized mobile palm synchronization. In the second, fancy devices with flashy ringtones, games, and graphics. The third—where we are today—is heavily centered on device capability, content, and media.

“It’s all about personalization,” Wuerch says. “That pace of content being added or accelerated is only growing.”

By 2014, according to Wuerch, there will be 4.5 billion mobile users on the planet, 500 million of which will be using smart phones. “In that world is where there’s such an opportunity,” he says. If mobile companies want to stay relevant through this evolution and the next, they have to find a way to marry intelligence and innovation. They have to give consumers what they want, and use that discovery to fuel further capabilities.

In this new wave of mobile, Wuerch predicts we’ll see “full, open mobile Internet engagement” from both enterprise and consumer. And the technology, he says, will bring on a behavioral evolution “where the mobile device becomes the primary conduit of what we do.” A person’s entire life—everything from communication, to business management, scheduling, shopping, even banking—will soon be managed through mobile devices. It will be a time when your device intuitively knows you.

That raises all kinds of privacy issues, but the trend in mobile is toward our mobile devices keeping more information about us, not less. Smart phones today have countless apps that allow users to store their pin numbers, passwords, even social security IDs on their mobile device. Some banks even allow consumers to deposit checks into their accounts by snapping a picture on their phone.

While there’s certainly potential for abuse of such data, Wuerch says the vast majority of consumers trust their credit card and social security numbers to their carriers—sometimes over the tried and true file folder buried in your bottom desk drawer. It’s convenient. It’s secure. It’s mobile. And, he says, the carriers haven’t breached the trust of their customers yet. “It’s like a relationship,” he says. If the carriers play their cards right, and protect the privacy of their subscribers, while giving them more control over what they can do with their phones, it’ll be a whole new ball game.

Though Wuerch says this evolution has been a long time coming, it’s just now reaching critical mass, making it an all the more interesting time to be in mobile.

“Look at Amazon Fresh. I never would have thought that Amazon would be delivering my groceries when I bought my first book,” he says. “True innovation happens when you can be part of behavioral evolution.” Google search, Microsoft’s Windows operating system, the Internet—all of these innovations changed the way consumers behave, he says, adding, “we’re at the beginning of that right now with mobile.”

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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