Austin, Texas has long been reputed with a vibrant nightlife and influential music scene. A new breed of innovators, however, is vying to get the city recognized as a launch pad for mobile technology development. According to an article in the Austin Statesman, entrepreneurs are beginning a number of Austin-based companies to compete in the mobile application industry.
The smartphone app industry started with the debut of the iPhone, five years ago. With the addition of Android (News - Alert) phones a year later, the market took off. With consumers relying on their smartphones to surf the web, make purchases and network with friends, app developers see the mobile market as a potentially unlimited platform for growth.
The article cited Tabbedout, founded by Austin locals Rick Orr and David Lemley, as a smartphone app that allows bar patrons to pay their drink bills through the phones.
The article estimated that over 50 software and app development companies, along with a number of game developers, call Austin home. This leads some to hope that Austin might someday position itself as a digital innovation hotspot, taking its place alongside Silicon Valley CA (News - Alert), and New York’s Silicon Alley.
Located close to the University of Texas with its sprawling campus, research labs and thousands of students, Austin has academic resources from which to draw. Better still, unlike New York or California, the cost of living in Austin is reasonable, making it an attractive place for young developers to set up shop. The city’s cultural and recreational offerings mean that tech savvy people won’t be sacrificing outside pursuits if they opt to locate their businesses in Austin.
"Austin's secret weapon is its talent base of extremely vibrant, hungry and passionate people who want to grow aggressively and do big things," Alan Knitowski, CEO of Phunware, told the Statesman. Phunware, based in Austin, offers an app created for the Discovery Channel show "Mythbusters." Major media players like CBS, NBC, ESPN (News - Alert) and the National Football League are also listed among its clients.
"What makes Austin great - the desire to innovate and the technical skill to do it - will make it stand out globally in mobile," Knitowski added.
The city’s flourishing technology sector isn’t confined just to app startups, according to the article; Established software developers like Mutual Mobile have also found a place there.
Founded by a former University of Texas student, John Arrow, Mobile Mutual now has 260 employees based in Austin and India. Its corporate customers include Google, Audi and Dell (News - Alert), the article said. "Our goal is to be a billion-dollar (revenue) company in the next three to five years," Arrow told the Statesman. "We are very much on that path."
CanWe Studios, a mobile smartphone business networking app developer, recently relocated its eight-person operation from Indianapolis to Austin, the article said. The company has received $1.5 million in financing. "Austin is like an approachable Silicon Valley,” CanWe Studios founder Brooke Braswell told the Statesman. ”People are open to having coffee and talking about their own business and helping you connect. Even though everyone is fighting for the same talent and in some cases the same customers, there's a genuine desire for you to succeed."
Economist Michael Mandel, president of South Mountain Economics, noted that the marketplace for mobile apps continues to grow at an accelerating rate, producing a flurry of startup companies and tons of new jobs. "Places like Austin that have a skilled labor base in this area are likely to benefit enormously from the app economy," Mandel was quoted in the article. Other analysts cited in the article noted that mobile apps represented only about 20 percent of Austin's digital industry. Around 1,860 software companies are based in the Central Texas region, according to the article, a number which is expected to rise very soon.
Fittingly, Austin will host this year’s ITEXPO (News - Alert), from October 2-5, at the Austin Convention Center. The event will feature the latest technology and solutions from resellers, service providers, manufacturers and developers. There will be conference sessions, demo products and services presented live on the expo floor. For more information regarding ITEXPO 2012, or to register for the conference, please click here.
Edited by Braden Becker