Fierce 15 2005

And the 2005 Fierce 15 winners are...

(click a company to read its profile)

(Click here to find out what happened to these companies.)

Today I am pleased to announce the third annual Fierce 15, our list of the top emerging companies in the wireless industry for 2005. Not to invoke a cliche, but this industry has changed a lot since our first list in 2003. In the last few years, wireless has matured as the main generator of growth for the entire telecommunications industry. A few wireless technologies, like WiFi, have gone from promising upstarts to mainstream hits, while others, like Bluetooth, have yet to live up to the hype. 3G has moved from buzzword to market reality in much of Europe and Asia and is even available in North America. Thanks to merger mania, the US wireless market has contracted, but competition remains high.

The most important change since our first Fierce 15, however, has been the overall resurgence of the wireless industry. Three years ago, this industry was stunted with cautious optimism. The industry is now poised for strong growth as everyone looks to areas like content to help drive growth for the rest of the decade.

This raises the age-old question: What is the next big hit? In that spirit of prognostication, I offer the 2005 FierceWireless Fierce 15. This year's list highlights a number of industry trends. The first is content. Seven of this year's winners offer either content or technology for accessing mobile content. Why all this focus on content? If this industry is ever going to make a successful transition away from its dependence on voice, content is going to be the key. Successful content and applications drive wireless data revenues. If there isn't compelling content -- or at least none that consumers are willing to pay for -- this industry could soon find itself facing a dead-end.

The next trend we spotlighted is convergence. In particular, we focused on the convergence of VoIP and wireless, picking three companies that offer different ways to solve the problem of multimodal access -- including cellular voice and data, WiFi, and VoIP -- on the same device.

While no one can predict the future, if the previous Fierce 15 winners are any indication you can bet this year's group of companies will be making the wireless headlines for the next few years to come, driving innovation and making bold plays to capture the future of this industry.

- Stephen Wellman