The introduction of the iPhone in 2007 helped spark an explosion in mobile applications. In the first few years that followed, apps were the hottest topic in the wireless industry--what they enabled, how they functioned and increasingly how much data traffic they generated. This focus on apps was also reflected in FierceWireless' "Fierce 15" winners, our annual celebration of the most innovative and promising privately held wireless companies. We have honored companies like Illume Software/iZup, Swype, Dropbox, Flipboard and Square.
Although apps obviously represent an important and growing segment of the wireless market, our 2014 "Fierce 15" winners are a more diverse array of companies and are focused on fundamental technologies affecting networks, both cellular and Wi-Fi.
I think our Fierce 15 selections this year are indicative of a natural evolution in the industry. Everyone acknowledges that there are some key ongoing trends in the market: wireless data traffic is increasing; carriers are hunting for more spectrum; more appliances and devices both inside and outside the home are being connected to the "Internet of Things;" and Wi-Fi offloading remains a prevalent practice.
Our winners this year are riding the crests of these trends and are looking ahead to how they can use them to create new opportunities in the market. For example, Artemis Networks and MagnaCom are both coming up with ways to fundamentally reshape how networks work and perform. Device Cloud Networks, M2M Spectrum Networks and SmartThings are using new business models to harness continued interest in the M2M and connected devices markets. Quantenna and wefi are both taking advantage of a continued need by operators to offload traffic to Wi-Fi networks. All of our winners this year are not just looking around the bend--they are the companies that will be leading the way to get the industry to its next stage of development.
Our Fierce 15 selections this year are based on meetings with dozens of the most innovative and smart emerging companies in the wireless industry. 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.
Here are the firms that we think will be making waves in the years ahead: