Since I started covering the wireless industry, I have been consistently amazed by the pace of innovation and the companies producing the latest advances--from applications to user interface paradigms to the architecture and speed of wireless networks themselves.
Companies have been reaping the rewards of all of this innovation by catching fire and going public, or, as is often the case, getting acquired by a larger player. One measure of the level of innovation percolating in the industry is the amount of venture capital funding flooding into mobile.
After the recession of the past few years, venture capitalists came out in force during 2011 to invest a total of $6.3 billion in mobile-focused companies, according to Rutberg & Co. That's just slightly less than the high of $6.4 billion that VC firms delivered to mobile in 2006, the biggest year of VC investments in mobile in the past decade.
With that as the backdrop, let me introduce you to the 2012 winners of the FierceWireless Fierce 15 awards. Every year, FierceWireless editors meet with, either in person or on the phone, dozens of the most innovative and smart emerging companies in the wireless industry.
Our selections this year, as in every year, are based on numerous briefings and interactions we have with companies. To qualify, a company must be privately held, well-funded, emerging (founded in the past decade or so) and have the potential to be a major player in the industry. We prefer the firm to be based in the United States, but if it is not, we expect it to conduct a significant amount of business in the U.S. since that is where the majority of our readers are located.
This year, our list includes several innovative and high-profile applications that could become mega hits, as well as a handful of network infrastructure companies that are providing innovative solutions to carriers to handle the traffic coming from those very same apps.
All of these winners have some key ingredients in common though: strong leadership, a sound vision and recognizable potential to reshape the wireless industry. Check out the firms that we think will be success stories in the years ahead: