Category: CloudFour

Six Portland-area mobile app developers and consultants to watch

I keep an eye on a bunch of people who work on mobile apps. Most recently with the Obama for iPhone app. I thought it might be helpful to give you a glimpse of some of the Portland Oregon mobile app scene.

[HTML1]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.

Use the mobile Web? Cloud Four needs your help

Cloud FourPortland-based Cloud Four, a burgeoning startup that has found more and more of its time dedicated to mobile development, could use some of your help.

We need your help for a research project. If you have a phone that have web access, please go to http://cloudfour.com/mobile/ to test the number of concurrent connections your phone makes. Your phone’s browser will need to display images for the test to work.

We’ve also set up a SMS keyword to make it easier to get to the test url. You can simply text MOBILETEST to 41411 on your phone, and you will receive back instructions on how to test your phone.

For those of you who haven’t dabbled in mobile Web development, it’s very much akin to Web development in mid to late ’90s. Lots of desire to develop, but not much in the way of data to guide that development.

With mobile devices, the speed of web pages is even more important given bandwidth, processor and memory constraints. Yet, for those trying to take advantage of the techniques promoted by Yahoo’s Best Practices for Speeding Up Your Web Site, it is nearly impossible to find how mobile browsers differ from desktop browsers.

For more information on the test and the thinking behind it, visit Cloud Four.

Guest editorial: Is Portland behind when it comes to mobile?

[Editor’s Note: In a brief flash of humility, I came to the realization that there were any number of experts here at our disposal in the Silicon Forest. Experts who have important things to say. Experts who can help us place the Rose City and the Silicon Forest within the context of a larger picture. Experts who are—quite frankly—more interesting than just little ol’ me.

And with that, I decided that some other viewpoints would be valuable. So welcome to a new feature on Silicon Florist: guest editorials.

First up, please welcome Jason Grigsby of Portland-based Cloud Four.

Knowing full well that one of Jason’s areas of expertise was mobile, I asked him “What’s up with mobile? And how is it going to play in Portland?” And he has graciously replied.

If you find his take interesting (and I know you will) make sure to peruse the mobile series he’s writing for his company’s blog. Or, you might seriously consider attending his presentation at Portland Web Innovators on Wednesday, February 13.

Ack. Looks like my intro is rivaling the length of the content. So, with that, I’ll hand you off to the honorable Mr. Grigsby. Grigs?]

Is Portland behind when it comes to mobile?

People keep asking me whether Portland is behind when it comes to mobile?

I would have never thought to ask this question. If we were behind, what would we do with this information?

Better yet, who would we be behind? San Francisco? Austin? Poughkeepsie?

We might be behind Chicago if Katherine Gray’s out-of-town guests are correct. She wrote to me on Twitter to tell me that her friends wondered why they hadn’t seen many Blackberries in Portland.

Apparently, we specialize in the kind of blackberries that grow on the side of roads and not the ones you carry in your pocket. (Actually, this isn’t true. Oregon’s largest employer, Intel, provides Blackberries as standard issue, and I’ve seen many other business people with them as well.)

If we are behind, what would be the proper measure? The percentage of mobile phone users per capita? The number of smart phone users?

Perhaps these metrics would tell the story. Unfortunately, city-specific data isn’t available.

In the absence of data, I have to fall back to my original, knee-jerk reaction: Of course Portland is behind. The whole country is behind.

In Europe and Asia, both consumers and businesses are more savvy when it comes to utilizing their phones.

  • In Japan, South Korea and China, more people access the web via mobile phones than via PCs.
  • Finland-based Nokia claims 40% of the worldwide market for phones—by far the leading phone manufacturer.

Portland is no more behind than the rest of America. This is one technology surge that we’re late to the game on. And with 3.3 billion mobile devices and growing, it represents the most widespread technology in the world—far surpassing PC, credit cards, and televisions.

Fortunately, there’s still time to catch up before things really take off. Things are lining up for 2008 and 2009 to be big years for mobile. Portland has the perfect combination of technical and creative communities to explore what is possible in this new medium.

I’m excited to see what Portland produces for the Mobile Web.

Jason Grigsby is a founder, Vice President, and Web Strategist at Cloud Four, a Portland-based Web consulting firm focused on Web, Mobile and emerging technology. For more information on Grigsby and Cloud Four, visit Cloud Four. To RSVP for his Portland Web Innovators talk, visit Upcoming.

Cloud Four: Anything but cloudy

[Editor’s note: I’m going to begin expanding the Silicon Florist beat, a bit, to provide coverage of new startups in the Silicon Forest area—as they come into being. Not only do these incredibly young companies need a little limelight, it will be interesting to cover them from their inception forward. Looking forward to your feedback on this expanded scope. And, if you’re starting a shop, please drop me a line.]

Please welcome a new startup to the block.

Portland-based Cloud Four, a Web strategy and development shop, boasts a team of known-entities from the Portland area and shows promise of quickly becoming a mainstay in the local development community.

I hear you. “Do we really need another Web dev shop in town?” And to that, I’d respond that I think we need more and more shops in town that think like Cloud Four.

Our philosophy emphasizes user experience over ego-driven, impractical designs or isolated, finicky engineering…. We believe that authenticity and integrity matter. We give you the advice we would give ourselves if we were in your shoes—even if it means less work for us.

For more on the cultural principles driving this fledgling organization, see the Cloud Four blog and Jason Grigsby’s post on the launch.

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