October 3rd, 2008

Six Portland-area mobile app developers and consultants to watch


Yesterday, it dawned on me that I keep an eye on a bunch of people who work on mobile apps. I’ve covered them from time to time—most recently with the Obama for iPhone app—but I thought it might be helpful to give you a glimpse of some of the folks who are making things happen in the mobile app scene.

And lo and behold they just happen to be from the Silicon Forest. Go figure.

Avatron Software (Vancouver, WA)

Talk about starting off on the right foot. Avatron’s first commercial application for the iPhone, Air Sharing (NOTE: iTunes app store link), is well on its way toward becoming the most popular iPhone application, ever.

“Founded in April 2008 by Dave Howell, a six-year veteran Apple engineering manager, Avatron is a leading developer of popular applications for the iPhone and iPod touch. Avatron’s Air Sharing application, downloaded by nearly one million users in its first week, has raised the bar for iPhone application design and software quality.”

For more information, visit Avatron.

Cloud Four (Portland, OR)

The folks at Cloud Four have really come into their own in the world of consulting on mobile apps—especially when it comes to things like usability. (What? You actually want people to be able to use the app?) They’ve put in some impressive (volunteer) work on the Obama for iPhone app and equally impressive (paid) work on the interface design for the Mobile Wall Street Journal app.

“But what’s remarkable about Cloud Four is not our individual talents, as extensive as they may be. It’s where we overlap that we really shine. Instead of working separately in our spheres of aesthetics and engineering, we look at the building of Web sites and applications as a cohesive process, not just a series of database views or mockups. Cloud Four is proudly based in Portland, Ore., but we serve customers worldwide.”

For more information, visit Cloud Four.

FreeRange (Portland, OR)

If any company is the “founding father” of the burgeoning Portland mobile scene, FreeRange is it. With customers like the Wall Street Journal and the Portland Trail Blazers—and one of the most impressive mobile feed readers on the market—FreeRange is sure to keep Portland associated with mobile apps for a long time to come.

FreeRange Communications was created in 2004 because using the browser to get information on a mobile phone didn’t work so well. It still doesn’t work well enough (no offense to the wizardy of Apple’s iPhone), and it’s not likely to become really great for a very long time.

For more information, visit FreeRange.

GoLife Mobile (Hillsboro, OR)

The folks at GoLife Mobile are working to make mobile application development and adoption easier for both developers and consumers. And by building a Java-based framework that runs on practically any handset—and in so doing allowing practically any application to run on any handset—they’re moving down the right path.

“GoLife Mobile Corporation was founded by industry veterans with the desire to create a mobile lifestyle environment that enhances how people interact with technology, each other, and the physical world around them. This is the true birth of ubiquitous computing. We foresee information flowing smoothly between ubiquitous, integrated devices and networks, seamlessly converging to provide useful, personal, context sensitive services.”

For more information, visit GoLife Mobile.

Don Park (Portland, OR)

The owner of the first—and only—Openmoko open-source phone I’ve ever seen, Don is always working to make things as open as possible. His latest project? Developing a mobile social location application for the soon-to-be-released open-source mobile platform, Android.

In his own words (via the Los Angeles Times):

“But Don Park, an independent developer in Portland, Ore., said he would focus on Android phones for his location-tracking software because he likes that openness.

“‘Phones weren’t interesting a few years ago,’ he said. ‘Now cellphones have become the new personal computer.’”

For more information, visit Don Park’s personal site.

Raven Zachary (Portland, OR)

Ever since the iPhone was introduced, Raven Zachary has been leading the thought on developing for the platform. As the creator of iPhoneDevCamp, chair of the upcoming iPhoneLive conference, and consultant to a number of iPhone developers in town and around the nation, Raven knows everything happening in the world of iPhone development—and he’s influencing a great deal of it, as well. Not only that, he served as the project manager on the Obama iPhone app, one of the most popular iPhone apps in history.

But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what Raven has to say.

“I love the iPhone. But that shouldn’t surprise you, because 90% of people who own iPhones love theirs too. But if you look into that 90%, I’m in the .1% of those people who don’t think of it just as a lovely phone, but as some agent of change that impacts us on a deep level – makes us more connected, more informed, more a part of the global network. And, hell, it’s wicked cool.”

For more information, visit raven.me. [UPDATE] Raven Zachary has co-founded an iPhone agency called Small Society. For more, see the Silicon Florist coverage on Small Society efforts.

BONUS! Mobile Portland (Portland, OR)

If you really want to stay in tune with what’s happening in the Portland mobile development scene, there’s no better place than the Mobile Portland group. The fledgling organization also holds regular meetings to discuss topics affecting the mobile scene.

“Mobile Portland is local user group focused on mobile development. We gather on the fourth Monday of every month for presentations, discussion and networking.”

For more information, visit Mobile Portland.

Who else?

As I mentioned, these are the folks I’m tracking. No doubt there are countless others I’m missing.

Has someone impressed you with their mobile development fu? Or maybe you’re a mobile developer who needs to toot his/her own horn a bit more?

Please, by all means, link it up below.

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Background that may help (or may not)

19 Responses to “Six Portland-area mobile app developers and consultants to watch”

  1. Dylan Boyd says:

    Very stoked with all the thought leadership here in PDX. And not only leadership but open dialogue around it as a developer community.

    The @eROI Crew has been doing mobile work for our clients like Travelocity, Moonit (*new app/site/brand out of NYC),Vantrix and GoMobo. So keep your eyes peeled for more mobile apps.

    Dipping Toes in new iPhone apps as well.

  2. My friend Kiyo and his crew at Spotlight Mobile in the Pearl have been doing it for years: location-based apps for the Smithsonian, Portland Art Museum, and parks, as well as iPhone apps like this one for Vogue:

    http://tinyurl.com/6dlyf6

    Here’s another NYT piece about Spotlight’s Cornell Univ. admissions tour work:

    http://tinyurl.com/4gn86w

  3. Jonathan says:

    I work on a product called Pincushion here in Portland. It’s what we call Business to Social — a way of connecting businesses to mobile social networks, essentially. The heart of it is truly 2-way, interactive customer service and communication delivered to people using SMS.

    So everyone I talk to considers it a mobile app. The funny part is that we don’t have one line of code running on the cell phone. I guess that’s the simple beauty of text messaging.

    http://www.higherfunction.com/

  4. I’m just glad to see mobile dev really taking off in its own right. The fact that it’s booming in Portland is a very nice bonus, of course. As for us, we’re focusing more on SMS + mobile web, but the push for native apps is so strong that I can see the appeal to go 100% native. :)

  5. Love that Portland is representing on the mobile front! Some of these cats are bad ass too: Cloud Four, Don Park, and Raven Zachary. Man, if I had the money to put those folks on some projects!!!

  6. I posted this in another blog entry on the site but I would post it again here. We started in mobile in 1997 with the PalmPilot. PDX as a hub for mobile development is not new — we have a long history here. When Palm was hottest, Portland had a number of mobile start-ups. Given that, it’s good to see a new crowd pick up the mantel and run with it!

  7. I’m another new mobile developer in Portland, aka Darknoon, doing native iPhone app development. I’m originally from silicon valley, but I think the scene here is vibrant enough to make a good living (plus working with people elsewhere).

    The Cocoa scene is only getting hotter, and some people are moving to Portland to do this sort of stuff.
    Exciting times! Go PDX!

  8. [...] Portland loves mobile. And, clearly, Portland-based GadgetTrak, the company that turns your stolen electronic devices into a sentient Neighborhood Watch for nabbing thieves, is no different. [...]

  9. [...] Portland loves mobile. And, clearly, Portland-based GadgetTrak, the company that turns your stolen electronic devices into a sentient Neighborhood Watch for nabbing thieves, is no different. [...]

  10. [...] FreeRange—one of the leaders of the Portland mobile scene with customers like the Blazers, paidContent, and The Wall Street Journal—has been acquired [...]

  11. [...] FreeRange—one of the leaders of the Portland mobile scene with customers like the Blazers, paidContent, and The Wall Street Journal—has been acquired [...]

  12. Steve Gray says:

    Any local sources for simple or low cost development for mobile app?

  13. Chris Skaggs says:

    Glad I found this page. We had a client call us recently and say “so you’re part of that bustling PDX iPhone thing eh?” to which I said, “…huh?”
    But I guess it’s true…and that’s awesome. Viva la PDX!

  14. I just left a voicemail for @smallsociety after finding this 2008 blog post http://tinyurl.com/54lkv8 by @turoczy

  15. AJain says:

    We have also joined the party in PDX area. We are cost effective Portland smartphone apps development company.

  16. Sam Stewart says:

    Great article! It’s really awesome to see Portland becoming a mobile dev epicenter. I’m local to Portland and do contract iPhone development and have written applications for several large publishing houses. I’d love to be added to your list as I’m always looking for exciting new projects to work on.
    Thanks!
    Sam Stewart
    services@inno-tron.com

  17. Concentric Sky (Eugene, Or) should definitely be on this list. We developed the Encyclopedia App (iOS) for Britannica and we’ve worked with organizations like the United Nations, World Bank, and National Geographic to develop mobile apps. Keep an eye out for or upcoming journaling app for iOS – Libations.

    I think it’s great to see the PNW becoming a major center of innovation in the mobile and Internet of Things space. Keep an eye on the Silicon Shire (Eugene/Springfield) – some great things happening down here.

    Best,

    Cale Bruckner / Vice President / Concentric Sky / http://www.concentricsky.com

  18. Rick Turoczy says:

    @Cale, This post is over five years old. But I guess I can add you guys if’n you want me to.


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