Recently, we launched Windows Phone 8, so it seems timely to put the spotlight on mobile innovation in Europe. And the good news is that mobile apps are driving some great opportunities for start-ups and students across the region.
Europe has long had a mobile focus, both in terms of innovation and user adoption. Today, Europe is still a major force in the mobile industry worldwide, as these statistics prove:
IDC recently reported that the Western European mobile market went back into growth for the first quarter of 2012
Europe is also home to two-thirds of the world’s mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs)
According to GSMA, 5 of the world’s top 10 mobile markets for ARPU (average revenue per user) are in Europe (Switzerland, The Netherlands, France, Norway and Ireland)
The region also appears in the top 5 3G markets worldwide
In May, Vodafone stated in Q4 2011 that smartphone penetration had risen to 24 per cent of its European customer base (according to the industry association the GSMA)
So, it is perhaps no surprise that a region that ‘thinks mobile’ so much is also host to some of the most innovation mobile apps out there – more on those later.
Of course, it is not always plain sailing for mobile developers and entrepreneurs. Economic hardship in many parts of the region, lack of access to capital and being trapped in a domestic market can all inhibit progress. This is why we believe it is vital to nurture start-ups and students right from the earliest stage, giving them the kind of tools and support that would otherwise be hard for them to attain.
Initiatives such as AppCampus are playing an important role in enabling innovative mobile ideas to get off the ground. AppCampus is a pre-seeded, global funding program created by Microsoft, Nokia and Aalto University. Students and entrepreneurs from around the world can submit mobile application proposals into the program at any time. The approved ideas will receive support, training, and funding.
Within the BizSpark program, we are working closely with start-ups across the region. An increasing percentage of the start-ups in the program are developing mobile apps and interest in Windows Phone 8 is huge. It’s hard to pick just a few to mention, but here are 3 of the shining lights in the European mobile app market:
Jampot (Northern Ireland)
Using JamPot Technologies’ product, TheAppBuilder, users can bypass the need for developers and build fees, and can instead build their own mobile apps today, without requiring any technical expertise, simply, quickly and cost-effectively. Users (businesses, organisations, personalities) use TheAppBuilder’s online editor to create fully customizable native Windows Phone, iPhone, iPad and Android apps which are published to the major app stores, in addition to HTML5 web apps. In just three months between launch at Mobile World Congress in February 2012, over 25,000 users had downloaded TheAppBuilder with around 80 per cent of those based in the USA. Belfast-based has already attracted a slew of positive industry reviews and awards, Fast Company, Engadget and ZDNet.
Paperlit – Italy
With Paperlit, publishers need to upload content just once to make it available to millions of tablet, smartphone and Facebook users. Competitive systems do not provide the low entry cost and scalable options that Paperlit offers. The Italian company is already generating revenue from an impressive array of customers, including Conde Naste, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, the BBC and Wired (Italy). Since launch in 2010, over 500 apps are now supported and over 2 million devices connected to the Paperlit cloud-based platform today.
Germany’s 6Wunderkinder’s app is all about taking on a relatively crowded market by making it as simple, affordable and accessible as possible. Its task management tools have been ‘app of the week’ in over 100 countries, including App of the Year in Japan, and 3rd place Vodafone Mobile Clicks award.
Notably, these start-ups aren’t just marketing themselves in their local markets – they are targeting global customers from day one. And the importance of that can’t be over-estimated: most new entrepreneurs in Europe need to market themselves outside their domestic markets and the universal appeal of mobile apps is passport that opens up markets worldwide.