By Brian Hoskins
June 20-24, Microsoft’s Emerging Business team hosted Mobile Acceleration Week at our midtown offices in New York City. This goal of the event was to accelerate a select group of high potential applications on Windows Phone. The group, consisting of all startup companies, represented a variety of applications, including location-based educational donations, early detection of cancerous moles, and a real-time personal shopping assistant. These startups are living proof of how mobile is truly changing the world and how people interact with both their physical and online environments.
This event was a milestone, not only as the seventh program since the original Mobile Incubation Week in Mountain View, but also as our first-ever event in New York City. Half of the startups were building their first-ever mobile applications and plan to launch exclusively on Windows Phone over the coming weeks. I’m particularly excited about how these startups are taking advantage of the new Mango features set to release this fall on Windows Phone.
Digital Folio plans to use the new camera APIs to facilitate search and discovery of the best local product deals. With the price of a standard camera changing on Amazon up to seven times a day, their app ensures shoppers find the best deals regardless of whether they are purchasing online or in a physical store. Ignighter is using live tile notifications to notify people of group activities happening around them, based on common interests and friends. With over 1.5 million users and growing, Ignighter is planning a big push of their app when Windows Phone launches in India.
mySkin’s innovative application allows a user to take a picture of a mole on their skin, determine if it’s a precancerous growth, and even find a dermatologist in their area on Bing Maps. mySkin users will automatically be able to track and manage their medical history using Microsoft’s Health Vault.
The other startups, including edRover and GroupMe, are porting their apps from competitive platforms. I was particularly impressed with how slick edRover’s app looked in the Metro UI. During our press day on Thursday, edRover showed the Windows Phone and iPhone app side-by-side, and the difference was amazing. Their app released last week and is available for download in Marketplace. GroupMe has done a terrific job of using the Metro UI, native address book integration, and plans to go big on live tile notifications with Mango.
What Happened During the Week?
Hardcore development, educational workshops, collaboration, and a bit of fun. The event, co-sponsored by Samsung, AT&T, Avventa, AppHub, Waggener Edstrom, and iLink, featured dedicated technical 1:1 support, assisted coding, and a different educational topic each day.
All participants received BizSpark membership, Samsung Focus Windows Phones, AT&T developer SIM cards, and free App Hub registration. During the week, we had professional UI consultations, onsite technical support from Microsoft Consulting Services, and even PR and media training with Waggener Edstrom. Educational sessions covered the Windows Phone Application Lifecycle, How to Nail UI/UX, How to Build a PR Strategy, and the Carrier Perspective.
Development happened around the clock, with many startups working late into the night to hand off code to iLink who used offshore resources to code overnight. The following morning, the startups would debrief on the code from the previous night.
Thursday was media day, with startups presenting to Mary Jo Foley from ZDNet and Sara Yin from PC Magazine. CNET featured an article on Mobile Acceleration Week, highlighting Digital Folio and GroupMe.
Coming out of the program, startups will receive special placement on Windows Phone Marketplace, social media outreach and exposure, support from Microsoft Advertising, and additional visibility through keynotes, demos, and advertising.
In the Words of the Startups…
“The focus and resource access enabled us to begin to work through key functionality for our WP7 product on Mango. We are excited about the possibilities…”
“This was a great experience for our team. We look forward to building a killer app!”
“This is our big bet for the year. We are very bullish on Windows Phone.”
“We got a ton out of the week. We are really glad we did this. The resources and support were simply outstanding.”
Congratulations to Our Participants!
Digital Folio: multi-channel, real-time shopping platform.
EdRover: Nation’s first location-based mobile application for school fundraising.
GroupMe: GroupMe lets you effortlessly group text with the people in your life that are important to you.
Ignighter: changing the way that people think about their options when it comes to online dating.
mySkin: Analyze your skin, find what products and routines work for you, and connect with your SkinTwins