By Brian Hoskins
This past week, Microsoft wrapped up two more exciting Mobile Incubation Weeks in London and Singapore. Both events featured an action-packed week of development, educational sessions, and close collaboration with members of the product teams.
Applications came in from around the world. Finalists represented a diversity of countries, stages of development, and ideas. The final list of finalists can be found here.
In addition to Microsoft star developers, MIW Europe was supported by two Microsoft Partners, Murano Software and Avanade.
The week culminated in a final day of judging before a panel of venture capitalists and members of the press and blogging communities. The winners were awarded prizes, trophies, as well as an opportunity for early participation in Windows Marketplace for Mobile.
A big congratulations to our winners, 2359Media in Asia and Deimos-Space in Europe!
Both events were well-received in the press and blogging communities, with local coverage in Asia and featured articles in the Telegraph in the UK (read the mid-week report and final report). In keeping with our real-time reporting, event happenings, updates, and the winners were broadcast live from Twitter.
Below are the full recaps from each event!
Recap: Mobile Incubation Week Asia (Singapore)
Mobile Incubation Week Asia finally draw to a close on June 1st, 2009, attracting a total of 8 companies and 20 developers.
With the objective of developing an application within a week, Mobile Incubation Week 09 attracted a large number of developers. Those who participated took part in three days of intensive Windows Metro training and set out to develop their applications across Day 4 and 5 and through the weekend.
The participants came from diverse backgrounds. Some were developers of other mobile platforms, a few had .Net developers but were new to the mobile platform. Everyone was excited about what Windows Mobile has to offer. The applications that were built were also equally varied, ranging from applications that took advantage of location-based services to image processing, from widgets to Chinese Language Learning Modules. All developers worked through their code, often foregoing tea breaks and lunch!
It was not all work though. We invited phone manufacturers, government agencies, VCs, as well as folks from Microsoft to share with the developers their perspectives on the outlook and trends of the mobile platform.
To close off the event, the developers and their applications were paraded through a panel of judges on June 1ststarting at 3pm. While some came prepared with slide decks and brochures, others were busy trying to resolve last minute kinks to their software.
The event closed off at 5:45 pm after the last group presented their applications to the judges and the winners were announced.
Recap: Mobile Incubation Week Europe (London)
The judging panel:
Overall Winner: Mobots (by Deimos Space). The Mobots application allows mobile users to create small personal applications on their Windows phone by linking together any of a wide range of preset functions. In a noisy night club, you can’t hear your phone ring, but with a personal Mobot, when it recognises a friend calling, automatically sends an SMS letting that friend know where you are. The judges saw Mobots as a potential game changer using a disruptive technology which may be able to open up the gateway to having services via the mobile phone. The ideal scenario is to see this integrated with the phone OS as part of the runtime environment, so that people can discover the application and customise accordingly. Mobile mashups for the masses!
Most Improved: Rummble/Total Hotspots. According to Dimitri Nikouline, the Rummble / Total Hotspots team performed a near “miracle” and pulled together a decent working version of the application within the week - from scratch - though a combination of hard work and great teamwork with MuranoSoft. Rummble/Total Hotspots were able to produce a very functional and useful application for the Windows Mobile phone. The amazing fact that the combined team has been able to achieve that from scratch in just three days is the ultimate testament for their technical prowess. The judges noted a number of factors in play which made it an interesting application to watch. Their proprietary trust algorithm impressed everyone, and the judging panel saw a number of great applications of the technology over social networks and other areas. The technology was interesting and innovative, and they saw a number of opportunities for business models.
Most Innovative: Comufy. People have a combination of 7-8 different ways to communicate with each other, resulting a information overload. Comufy addresses this problem by allowing the user to decide who can contact them, when and how - no more annoying calls or messages, while ensuring they receive those most important to them. Solutions like this have a real future, according to the judging panel, and this provides interesting opportunities both as a service and as a product, which could be of interest to both Telcos and Infrastructure Providers.
After a rather intense week with late nights, a series of hiccups, and then, eventually, some successes, the Emerging Business Team in the UK are finally able to announce the Winner of EMEA Mobile Incubation Week. I thought it would be good to start with a brief description of how the week was conducted, which culminated in a final pitch session on Friday morning in front of a panel of mobility experts.
The week was supported by two Microsoft Partners, Murano Software, based in California (who also supported the original Incubation Week in California); and Avanade. Murano Software provided two Project Managers, as the full-time support of eight software engineers (via Skype), based in Russia. Avanade provided two Project Managers and supported four out of the eight start-ups.
The start-ups were each allocated a room in the Customer Centre of the Microsoft London Victoria Offices for the week. The four Project Managers distributed their time between the start-ups over the course of the week. The Russian-based Murano Software Engineers were each assigned a start-up, and they communicated with the teams via Skype. In the words of Dimitri Nikouline, MuranoSoft President, miracles happened over the course of the week, as several start-ups were able to develop and deliver a Windows Mobile 6.5 application within four days. These applications will be featured in the upcoming launch of the Windows Marketplace for Mobile.
The start-ups also had two opportunities to pitch in front of different audiences in advance of the final pitch session on Friday. On the Wednesday, several team members from the Windows Mobile Product Team, as well as key players from the Enterprise Sales team who own the Microsoft relationships Europe's largest operators, provided constructive feedback to the start-ups. On the Thursday, all the companies took the opportunity to pitch to Platform Strategy Advisors from the Developer and Platform Evangelism team, who were able to provide feedback on both the technology and the business models.
Feedback from the participants thus far has been very positive – many told me that they were pleasantly surprised by the level of support offered by Microsoft, as well as Murano Software and Avanade. The time spent with the dedicated Russia-based MuranoSoft engineers via Skype was invaluable. One start-up mentioned to me that this saved him weeks of development time, thereby really improving his chances of speed to market. All also appreciated the opportunity to network, with both the Mobile Product Team and the Emerging Business Team, as well as amongst themselves and other industry experts. A successful week overall!
The EMEA team awarded prizes over three categories:
The judging panel consisted of:
Steve Butcher, Senior Consultant, Avanade; Guillermo Escofet, Editor, Mobile Media, Informa Telecoms and Media; Carlos Espinal, Doughty Hanson & Co Technology Ventures; Dimitri Nikouline, President, Murano Software; Mark Taylor, Senior Director, Developer and Platform Evangelism, Microsoft; Barrie Whipp, Executive Chairman, Crimson Tide; Milo Yiannopoulos, Consulting Editor (Technology), Telegraph.co.uk
And the winning teams are:
WINNER: Mobots (by Deimos Space)
Most Improved Application: Rummble/Total Hotspots
Most Innovative Application: Comufy