At this point in my career covering the wireless industry I should not be so continually amazed by what the industry keeps producing in terms of innovation. Smartphones increase in their capabilities; chipsets get smaller and more powerful; networks get faster and provide more capacity. But none of that actually wows me all that much. It's the work behind the scenes by smaller players that provides real spark.
What if you wanted to help consumers by giving them a better way to find applications based on what they want to actually do with the app, rather than what it might be called or what category it falls into? Or, what if you wanted to buy data on an a la caret basis only when you need it while sharing that pool of data with others? Or, how can you dramatically cut the cost of deploying a mobile network so that rural carriers with fewer resources can get their networks up and running faster?
I ask these questions because they're being answered by some of the winners of the 2013 FierceWireless Fierce 15 awards. Every year FierceWireless editors meet with, either in person or on the phone, scores 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.
The winners this year include a company that helps smaller carriers test Android phones to determine how they will respond in real-world environments and how best to market them. The list includes a company that is putting its money where its mouth is and betting on the market for apps that use real-money mobile gaming. And the Fierce 15 this year also includes a firm that wants to make big business out of Big Data by reselling anonymous subscriber data to city planners, transit administrations, market researchers and others.
All of the companies have a "fierce" ethos about them; they have sound business models and the potential to shake up the wireless industry. Here are the firms that we think will be success stories in the years ahead: