Innovation That Matters

Top 10 telecom & mobile business ideas in 2006


We’re deviating from our regular schedule to bring you the best new business ideas we spotted in 2006. Today – ten from the mobile and telecom industries.

  1. Phone for boomers & their parents: While most cell phones tout an abundance of bells and whistles, two companies are focusing on the substantial market for simpler phones. Founded by Arlene Harris, a telecoms veteran, and her husband Martin Cooper, who helped develop the first portable cell phone for Motorola in 1973, GreatCall is a new wireless company that will target baby boomers and their parents. More »

  2. Turning phone calls into phonecasts: Voice over IP isn’t just making phone calls cheaper. It’s also spawning innovative services that make calls smarter. Case in point: a new start-up called Pheeder, which allows users to communicate with groups of people simultaneously, with just one phone call. How it works: a registered member calls Pheeder, leaves a message, and hangs up. Seconds later, the message is delivered to a pre-selected group of friends, who can either reply to the message or forward it to their friends. More »

  3. User generated content meets profit sharing: Slowly but surely, established brands are climbing aboard the customer-made bandwagon, inviting consumers to co-create. But as our sister-site predicted a while ago, true co-creation can only blossom if brands share revenues resulting from consumer generated content with those same consumers. Which is why we like Vodafone Netherlands’ new KijkMij TV (Look at Me TV) initiative, which not only involves customers uploading their funniest, sexiest or most informative (cameraphone) videos, but also pays these minipreneurs 10% of revenues generated when other customers download their video. More »

  4. Private yapping booth: Here’s a smart idea that could be turned into a global cottage industry: sound resistant cell phone booths. The Cell Zone, produced by Salemi Industries, can be placed in nightclubs, restaurants, libraries, on airports, train stations, at concerts, and all other places where a bit of peace and quiet is often hard to get. More »

  5. Start Mobile: OK, so we’re suckers for anything that claims to be a ‘world’s first’. Like San Francisco’s START MOBILE, a gallery selling art for cell phones. Part of the START SOMA gallery, the venture sells thousands of original works of new art from hundreds of established and underground artists, to be downloaded onto mobile phones. More »

  6. Audiobooks for phones: Bokilur is Swedish for book on phone. And the company offers exactly that: audiobooks for cellphones. To get started, customers download and install a piece of Java-based software, that’s compatible with over 40 phones (both 3G and GPRS). They can then use the software’s interface to browse available titles, and listen to two minutes of each book for free before deciding to download. More »

  7. Calling all mompreneurs: LiveOps enables clients to set up virtual call centers, connecting to agents that work from home. Made possible by availability of broadband internet access and affordable computers, the virtual set-up is spurred on by cost-conscious companies who would rather rely on independent contractors than hire full-time staff. Even better, since people who have the freedom and convenience of working from home are generally happier than those that have to commute to call center warehouses, they provide friendlier customer service and are better salespeople. More »

  8. Boomer tones: Just when you thought the ringtone craze had reached its peak, a new ringtone provider springs up and grabs your entrepreneurial attention. Although it also offers popular―some would say hackneyed―classics like Für Elise, Booseytones’ main attraction is its wide range of less overworked ringtones. Being the world’s largest publisher of classical music, Boosey & Hawkes can draw from an immense catalogue of music. More »

  9. Mms-ing local government: Love Lewisham involves residents in keeping the southeast borough of London clean. After installing special software on their cameraphone, observant townspeople can snap a picture of ‘offending graffiti’ or overflowing litter bins, enter location details, and send it to the local council. The picture is then posted on the council’s website, and cleaning crews are sent to resolve the issue. More »

  10. Shoot and know: Hardly a week goes by without another company unveiling a new service (often based on barcode or RFID scanners) to facilitate the interaction between people and physical objects. Still, Dutch ShotCodes has managed to take a original shot at this market with a visual approach that will appeal to consumers because, well, visuals always appeal to consumers. More »