Mobile Highlights from SXSW 2012

The 2012 South by Southwest Music Conference and Festival (SXSW) in Austin, Texas has come to a close after another exciting year of music, film and technology. Since 1987, SXSW has attracted creative professionals from diverse industries to share ideas, launch new projects and nurture innovation.

SXSW 2012 lived up to high expectations on the technology front, whether you were attending as a mobile app developer or a brand marketing manager. The schedule featured more than 5,000 events over the 10 days of the festival, from panel discussions such as, “Your iPhone Is Political: Mobile Democracy” and “Music 2.0: Engaging Fans with Mobile Social Apps,” to workshops including, “Demystifying the Future of the Web and Apps” and “Designing for Context.” Here are a few mobile technology highlights that caught our attention.

3 Interesting Mobile Takeaways from SXSW 2012

1. AT&T Mobile App Hackathon

The AT&T Mobile App Hackathon made its SXSW debut this year. AT&T, along with partners Health 2.0, Apigee, HTC and Sierra Wireless, hosted a 24-hour, all-platform mobile app development event where mobile app developers competed to create a custom app centered around the celebrity judge, Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs.

Briggs, who describes himself as passionate about comic books, travel and cooking in addition to football, was looking for a unique way to connect better with his fans on a personal level. Mobile app developers worked around the clock to build fully functional applications and present them to a panel of judges. The first place winner, an app called Boogie Up, was designed for people who aspire to live a positive, healthy lifestyle like Lance Briggs.

2. “Homeless Hotspots”

One of the most controversial technology stories from SXSW 2012 was the “Homeless Hotspots” marketing effort from New York-based advertising agency Bartle, Bogle and Hegarty (BBH). To meet the high demand for free wireless Internet at the festival, the company outfitted 13 homeless people from an Austin shelter with 4G MiFi mobile devices that broadcast Internet signals. The participants were all given T-shirts advertising that they were mobile hotspots and received a payment of $20 a day, plus any donations given to them. Wireless users were encouraged to donate $2 per 15 minutes of Internet time.

BBH’s “Homeless Hotspots” idea sparked passionate debate among journalists, tech experts and social activists:

  • Wired’s Tim Carmody criticized the campaign and said, “The homeless turned not just into walking, talking hotspots, but walking, talking billboards for a program that doesn’t care anything at all about them or their future.”
  • Mark Horvath, creator of the We Are Visible homelessness campaign, reacted positively to the effort in a Huffington Post piece: “I think the idea is brilliant, and it’s a new idea in a nonprofit sector that is void of any new ideas, especially in tech.”
  • Melvin, one of the homeless participants, told BuzzFeed,” I would say that these people are trying to help the homeless, and increase awareness. They’re trying not to put us in a situation where we’re stereotyped. That’s a good side of it, too — we get to talk to people. Maybe give them a different perception of what homeless is like.”

3. The Future of the Mobile Wallet

The mobile wallet, technology that will allow consumers to pay for products with their phones, was a hot topic among mobile app developers at SXSW 2012. Omar Green, director of strategic mobile initiatives at Intuit, gave an engaging presentation about the ideal mobile wallet technology infrastructure called, “Creating a Mobile Wallet Worth Having.” Green said a mobile wallet should go beyond just credit card purchases to add value to financial transactions for both consumers and businesses.

Publisher’s Weekly’s Calvin Reid said, “Green’s entertaining presentation offered a vision of a kind of ultimate mobile wallet–beyond credit card transactions, his envisioned, AI-like wallet software would learn to help guide a consumer’s financial decision-making.”

We’re already looking forward to SXSW 2013!

Want to learn more about the future of mobile apps? Watch a Fox Business News interview with Applico CEO Alex Moazed.

Filed under: Platform Innovation | Topics: mobile, mobile innovation, sxsw

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