Top 10 Mobile
01 – Square
For creating a new kind of mobile, social, and local retailer and streamlining point-of-sale payments. When Square launched in October 2010, it was a mere dongle that plugged into iPhones, enabling anyone–especially small businesses–to accept credit card payments. No more. Square has since set out to transform the entire payments process, launching an iPad app designed to replace the cash register and point of sale credit card equipment and processing and its Card Case app brings the future of the digital wallet to smartphones today without having to wait for a tap-and-pay system of embedded chips and readers. READ MORE
02 – Tapjoy
For fueling mobile app growth through the use of in-app advertisements. Its 280 million users select which ads to engage with in exchange for receiving virtual currency that they can later use in their favorite apps. Its turnkey in-app advertising platform has monetized more than 11,000 apps across Apple’s iOS, Android, Windows Phone 7, and HTML5 platforms. “For thousands of developers around the world, their apps wouldn’t see the light of day without us,” says CEO Mihir Shah. “We’re in the business of discovery. We pair user interests with great mobile apps.”Last November, Tapjoy branched out from mobile advertising with the beta launch of its personal app marketplace, which delivers customized app recommendations based on users’ current apps, as well as those of their friends. READ MORE
03 – Foursquare
For moving far beyond check-ins and adding services like daily deals, a recommender, and real-time geolocation alerts. Last year, the location-based social network partnered with Groupon, LivingSocial, and Scoutmob to offer live deals within its mobile app. It also rolled out Radar, an opt-in service that knows where you are and alerts you when you’re near a restaurant or store you’ve saved to your to-do list. And in November, it leveraged the mass of data its collected since launching in 2009–from more than 10 million users and over a billion check-ins–to create a kind of personalized city guide for users logging in from a computer or tablet.
04 – Instagram
For creating a beautiful, free photo-sharing service that lets regular people take professional-looking photos. Instagram’s signature square-shaped photos pay homage to Polaroid’s instant camera, and amateurs can create frame-worthy shots by stylizing their photos with the app’s special custom filters. Users can then share to multiple social networks at once, including Instagram’s own network. The site has grown to more than 15 million users, up from one million last January. Famous users include President Barack Obama, Snoop Dogg, and Justin Bieber.
05 – Flipboard
For bringing its addictive news- and social-media consumption app to the iPhone and making it even more irresistible. Upon its debut late last year, the iPhone app tripled the typical usage of Flipboard’s iPad app. The addition of the iPhone app grew Flipboard’s page views (which it calls flips) from 650 million to almost 2 billion per month. Smart and timely content guides, to enhance everything from the Presidential election to watching the Super Bowl, go further in making Flipboard an essential tool for consuming content.
06 – Shopkick
For creating the first instant geo-couponing system that rewards users for stepping into retail stores. Shopkick has redefined the check-in-to-reap-rewards game by eliminating a step: the act of checking in. It works by installing a hardware system in each of its partner stores that picks up signals from smartphones that has installed the app. So users start accumulating “kicks,” or rewards, the moment they walk in. Since launching in 2010, Shopkick has grown to 3 million users who walked in to 5 million stores and interacted with 1 billion products as of January 2012. Last November, Shopkick partnered with Visa to give customers an added incentive to shop after walking in. Users with registered Visa cards get rewards anytime they shop in participating stores including Old Navy, American Eagle Outfitters, and Toys ‘R’ Us. “We’re the only company that gives rewards just for walking in,” says cofounder Cyriac Roeding. “It happens so fast, people think it’s like magic. It’s instant gratification.”
07 – GetGlue
For turning live TV-watching into a social media appointment with friends and fellow fans. “If you’re watching TV, chances are you’re using social media, too,” says CEO Alex Iskold. “We’re tapping into that market.” GetGlue offers its users three main services: the ability to check in to a TV show, interaction with others watching too, and special loyalty features like retail rewards and profile badges. Last year, its monthly check-ins increased 1,000%, to more than 16 million per month by year’s end. GetGlue has partnerships with more than 70 media companies, including virtually all of the major TV networks. And some, like TNT, have even integrated GetGlue into their own mobile apps. Last year it refined its filters to direct users toward conversations they’re most interested in, based on their TV preferences.
08 – Twilio
For easing app developers’ headaches by letting them add voice, SMS and VoIP functionality to their apps. Twilio provides easy-to-integrate phone and text services to its 75,000 developers. “The number-one thing we did was create access to telecommunications for developers, when before it was this black box,” says Danielle Morill, Twilio’s director of developer evangelism and the startup’s first hire. In 2011, it quadrupled in size to more than 100 employees and increased its customer base by 400%. Last year it launched Twilio Connect, easing the billing process between developers and their users, and Twilio Client, allowing developers to integrate cloud communications into their apps. They also expanded into Europe.
09 – Lookout
For securing 15 million smartphones against mobile threats and reuniting lost phones with their owners. The San Francisco-based company is adding new customers at a rate of more than one million per month. After years of providing security services for BlackBerry, Windows 7, and Android phones, in October Lookout launched its free iOS app for securing data that iPhone and iPad users store on their devices. Last June it launched a new feature to protect users from online threats while web browsing on their mobile phones. Lookout’s cloud-based protection system is powered by its Mobile Threat Network, which quickly analyzes threat data worldwide and block threats as soon as they emerge. Last year they unveiled the Lookout API, which gives partners–including Verizon Wireless–access to threat data, ensuring all apps in their app stores are screened against Lookout’s databases. Lookout now comes pre-loaded on T-Mobile devices and just announced a partnership with Telstra, Australia’s biggest mobile operator, to come pre-loaded on Telstra devices as well in 2012.
10 – Bump
For creating the smartphone’s high-five: Tap devices to share content with a friend. More than 60 million people have downloaded this app, making it the seventh most popular free download of all time. Recent updates have added music and app sharing, as well as being able to “virtually bump” friends even when they aren’t nearby.