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Australia’s top 10 mobile moguls

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Following the launch of the iPhone, the mobile industry has become hot property. But this is not a new sector. As BRAD HOWARTH reveals, a group of industry pioneers have been slowly building Australia’s mobile industry for more than a decade.

By Brad Howarth

Australia's top 10 mobile moguls

Following the launch of the iPhone, the mobile industry has become hot property. But this is not a new sector. A group of industry pioneers have been slowly building Australia’s mobile industry for more than a decade.

Building an industry can be a thankless slog, especially when the idea is compelling but the business models elusive. Such is the lot of many of Australia’s innovators in content and applications for mobile phones.

While the idea of getting the internet and other content on your phone seems like an obvious one, lining up all of the elements to make it happen has proven tricky, requiring cooperation between carriers, advertisers and content creators.

So while they may not command the biggest pay cheques or helm the largest companies, when it comes to the development of the mobile internet in Australia, the 10 individuals listed here are rated by their peers for their hard work, innovation and success in a sector where the rewards today are small, but may potentially be enormous tomorrow.

Angus Beattie – 3 Mobile:

Mobile moguls Angus Beatie

Since joining 3 Mobile in July 2007, Beattie has been responsible for the company’s mobile advertising strategy and delivery, delivering campaigns for Ford, 20th Century Fox and Tourism Canberra. 3 Mobile has been a strong supporter of the local mobile industry, and Beattie has maintained the tradition, and is a regular speaker on mobile content and advertising issues.

Justin Brow – mega:

While his background is in marketing and media at Disney Internet Group and Spin Communications, these days Brow devotes his energy to digital media industry development initiatives such as 60Sox.org (a showcase for talent) and now mega, the mobile enterprise growth alliance.

The latter group gives entrepreneurs with a cool idea for a mobile technology or service the opportunity to pitch in front of a panel of experts and investors. “We seem to have a productive mix of innovation, creativity, tenacity, technical wherewithal and business sense to really compete very well on an international level,” Brow says.

Oliver Weidlich – Ideal Interfaces:

Mobile moguls Oliver Weidlich

An expert in user experience with a passion for making mobile technology easier to use, Weidlich has also been a driving force behind many of the events that have bound Australia’s mobile developers into a community, including the AIMIA Mobile Phone Lifestyle Index survey of consumer habits and attitudes. His business provides usability testing services and emerging technology consulting, servicing customers including Hutchison, Optus, Telstra, ninemsn and the ABC.

Dave Green – Vodafone Australia:

With 15 years experience in international sales, product and marketing experience within the telecommunications industry, Green formulates and delivers the mobile advertising strategy for Vodafone in Australia. In 2007, he developed the “mobile advertising charter” as a standard for the local market, which has since been embraced by agencies and operators around the world.

Luke Janssen and Oliver Palmer – TigerSpike:

Janssen and Palmer founded TigerSpike in 2003, and since then have been blazing a trail for integrated mobile marketing campaigns. In February TigerSpike set up an innovation lab to further push the envelope of what’s possible. “The innovation lab that we have set up makes sure that we not only know what is coming up, but we have made a call on whether we think it is important and our tech guys have played around with it,” Janssen says. The company now has offices in Auckland, New York and London.

Che Metcalfe and Karyn Lanthois – Podmo/Kukan Studio:

Mobile moguls Che Metcalf

A driving force within Adelaide’s digital media community and president of the South Australian chapter of the Australian Interactive Media Industry Association (AIMIA), Metcalfe co-founded Kukan Studio with Lanthois as a specialist developer of games and other content for mobile phones.

Mobile mogul Karyn Lanthois

Metcalfe’s new venture, Podmo Mobile, is seeking to build out entirely new city-wide mobile phone infrastructure using Bluetooth wireless technology, effectively bypassing traditional carriers when it comes to distributing digital content. He is currently exploring opportunities for Podmo in international markets.

Chris Noone – NineMSN:

Mobile moguls Chris Noone

Noone got his start in mobile in 2001 when he worked for Vizzavi, a joint venture of Vivendi and Vodafone that was the forerunner of Vodafone’s Live service. He then established Vodafone’s mobile games and content business across Europe, before returning to Australia to establish the mobile group at ninemsn in 2006 where he launched and grew its mobile advertising business to take a 17% market share. Noone is also founder of the “You Can on a Mobile” consumer education campaign, and is now working as an independent consultant.

Paz Saavedra – News Corporation:

News Digital Media’s mobile product manager is described by her peers as a leading innovative thinker, and has been responsible for the strategic direction of mobile services across brands including carguide.com and News.com.au, which claims to be Australia’s first customisable mobile site. She also oversaw development of News’s first three sites customised for the iPhone.

Jennifer Wilson – Lean Forward:

As managing director of HWW, Wilson was a pioneer in the development of mobile content in Australia, creating the yourTime series of mobile information sites. HWW was acquired by ninemsn in December 2005, and Wilson moved on to a role as head of innovation.

Mobile moguls Jennifer Wilson

Earlier this year she left to set up her own business, Lean Forward, which provides consulting services around creating engaging consumer experiences both on mobile and online. “Things like the iPhone are game-changing, not because of what the device is, but because it opens up our mind to the possibilities of what this could become,” Wilson says.

“We are getting more ‘connected’ – and connection is going to extend to every device so we are going to need to rethink our ideas of ‘internet’ – which will become synonymous with ‘connected’; and ‘mobile’ – which even now, doesn’t just mean phone.”

Alex Young – Mostyle:

With a career background that includes Telstra, Nokia and Singapore’s Starhub, Young was born mobile. He began working with the mobile internet way back in 2000 when Nokia released its first phone featuring wireless application protocol (WAP), and went on to found Mostyle in 2004.

Mobile mogul Alex Young

While Young has spent much of his life creating developing innovative mobile community and entertainment services, his current business hands that capability back to the general public, allowing anyone to publish their own mobile website outside the portals of the carriers. It has already attracted significant interest in south east Asia.

“We see much of the success of Mostyle coming to bear in the global realisation that the off-portal mobile internet space is much like the web reborn; a time for new tools, new communities and a new eco-system.”

 

(With apologies to Chris Kettle, Anthony McGregor Dey and Adam Dunne, all of whom have featured on previous SmartCompany entrepreneur lists, and thanks to Claudia Sagripanti).

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