Top 10 innovative Canadian wireless ‘companies to watch’

Analyst firm IDC Canada recently came up with a list of 10 start-up Canadian companies to watch for in the mobile and wireless space.

Mobile marketingoutfits, couponing firms, mobile analyticsbusinesses, and even a company that delivers Bollywood movies to your cell phone users are among the players IDC Canada is monitoring.

“The local mobile and wireless market is very new and still wide open,”said Krista Napier, senior analyst, competitive intelligence and emerging technology at IDC Canada.

Napier is the lead analyst at IDC Canada’s Technology Innovation Watch, which focuses on up and coming Canadian tech stars.

The mobile and wireless space is currently fragmented.

Players are striving to use multimedia technology and interactive marketing, either as to offer a service or to promote a brand, the IDC Canada analyst said.

Napier’s report is titled Ten Canadian Mobile and Wireless Companies to Watch. The businesses that feature in her report are:

Adenyo– A Toronto-based marketing firm that enables clients to integrate a mobile channel into their advertising and marketing mix. Its clients include the Hudsons Bay Company, Air Canada, CIBC, Coca Cola, The Toronto Star, Pfizer and other companies.

Jigsee Inc.- This Canadian company uses its proprietary media transport technology to deliver long-form and live-video content to common cell phones over existing wireless infrastructures. In countries such as India, Jigsee enables people to watch Bollywood movies on their cell phone screens.

Clip Mobile– A Toronto firm that offers location-based mobile coupon capabilities for businesses seeking to provide customers a means of “saving money on-the-go”.

Common Enterprise – Another Toronto company that offers a unique way of tracking products and their life cycle. For instance, their technology enables manufacturers or retailers to determine remotely if a product is nearing the end of its life cycle. Consumers who opt in to the program can receive product-specific messages such as a recall alert on their cell phones. Conversely, customers can have a direct line to technical support or customer service for the product.

MMB Research Inc. – A software design firm connected with the ZigBee Smart Energy hardware family. The company focuses in developing products that help energy solution product manufacturers rapidly develop wireless and embedded software tools.

Neuraltic Inc. – This Montreal-based firm develops tools that offer marketers deeper insights into how consumers use mobile devices. Businesses can then use the data from Neuraltic to develop relevant messages that can be delivered to a strategically defined group at the right time.

Polar Mobile– Polar Mobile enables companies to deliver advertising content and messages across multiple smart phones. Its Mint Technology also provides custom brand, real-time news and information to BlackBerry handsets. Its clients include: the Toronto Maple Leafs, The Food Network, CBS Sports and Time.

QuickPlay Media Inc. – A firm that helps companies deliver video, TV shows, radio broadcast to various smart phones.

Seregon Solutions Inc. – This Ottawa-based company develops mobile enterprise applications such as customer relations management apps, store and retail management apps, inventory, shipping and warehouse tools, and even patient records, lab orders, medical imaging and prescription apps.

Telepin Inc. – is an Ottawa-based provider of a mobile money transactions system for businesses. The company enables subscribers to recharge their mobile airtime without physical cards or vouchers, engage in peer-to-peer money transfers and do electronic bill payments using multiple channels.

A growing market

With strong smart phone adoption, Canada remains a very attractive market, according to Napier.

Smart phone adoption in the country is nearing 17 per cent and device shipments this year experienced a 22 per cent growth, she noted.

Overall, data and voice revenues were pegged at $15 billion in 2009, and are expected to reach $23 billion by 2013.

With better high-speed networks, she said, Canada is well positioned to increasingly use more data-intensive apps.

Another Canadian technology industry analyst agrees.

“Broader smart phone penetration will clearly drive the mobile solutions market,” said Carmi Levy, independent technology analyst.

“Currently mobile penetration in Canada is only around 67 to 70 per cent, compared to 85 per cent or more in the U.S., and somewhere in excess of 90 per cent in Europe and Asia,” he noted.

But, he said, Canada is clearly catching up.

“The genie is out of the bottle,” said Levy. “Mobile phones are everywhere and rich mobile technology is everywhere.”

Where opportunities are

Firms that will thrive in this environment will be those that put a unique spin on technology or those that provide truly useful products and services.

Napier cited the example of Toronto-based Common Enterprise.

“Common Enterprise proposes to allow customers to opt into a program where they can swipe their cell phone over a product and instantly link to that item,” said Napier.

In this scenario, she said, retailers or manufacturers could alert buyers over the phones about a scheduled maintenance procedure or sudden product recalls.

If the buyer is having problems with the product, customer service reps could access to the full product information embedded on the buyer’s cell phone.

“Also worth watching are firms that have broadened their horizons and opened up operations or collaboration abroad,” Napier said.

For instance, she said, Jigsee smartly identified an opportunity to serve the mega cinema market in India. It appears a perfect tie-up with mobile technology since cell phones are widely popular in the country.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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