Demand for smart-phone applications spawns opportunities

February 6, 2010 – The Indianapolis Business Journal highlights a few entrepreneurs in Indianapolis who are working to serve the growing demand for mobile-optimized web sites and custom apps for smartphones like the iPhone, Blackberry and Android. IBJ reporter Chris O’Malley interviews James Burnes on Mobiltopia, the first venture of his idea consultancy and digital venture incubator Project Brilliant.

Below are a few excerpts from the article. (Article is premium content on IBJ. You can register for a free trial account to read the complete article).

Smart-phone fever is heating up the climate for innovation in the local tech community, as firms new and old try to cash in on the demand for applications that can be used on the iPhone, BlackBerry and other gadgets from the likes of Palm and Google.

Tech entrepreneurs also see opportunities in optimizing existing Web sites to make them easier to access and navigate for smart-phone users.

“Cell phones are the new computer. These are the only devices we carry with us at all times and the only device we put at our bedsides,” said James Burnes, CEO of upstart Mobiltopia.

James Burnes, CEO and Founder of MobiltopiaLater in the article, James addresses the potential of web applications and why the market is prime for a business like Mobiltopia to build custom apps and mobile optimized web sites to leverage these legions of smart phone users.

Burnes points to other analyst estimates that smart-phone penetration could soar to 30 percent by the end of this year.

“Mobile has only begun to scratch the surface,” he said.

Yet a number of Web sites aren’t compatible with smart phones, Burnes said, pointing to research by Boston-based consumer research firm Compete. It found that 8 percent of smart-phone users surveyed said they were unable to complete purchases online, and 45 percent of those said it was because they couldn’t load the Web site.

Burnes said his firm has developed a smart-phone optimization system that allows a site to determine whether a visitor is using a phone or a computer. The software detects the particular type of phone and packages content to better suit the phone’s smaller screen size.

Burnes also contemplates apps that would allow a company’s employees to file their expenses, report their hours, request vacation days or conduct other mundane chores through their smart phones.

“We could operate our entire business, generally speaking, through a mobile device today.”•