Nokia gives mobile application developers their big break

Nine companies are awarded with a chance to pitch Nokia's top executives on their ideas for mobile phone applications and technologies.

Tom Krazit
Tom Krazit Former Staff writer, CNET News
Tom Krazit writes about the ever-expanding world of Google, as the most prominent company on the Internet defends its search juggernaut while expanding into nearly anything it thinks possible. He has previously written about Apple, the traditional PC industry, and chip companies. E-mail Tom.
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Mobile applications are turning into big business, and Nokia is looking to launch a few start-ups on their way.

Nokia's developer arm, Forum Nokia, announced the results of its Mobile Rules contest Wednesday night at San Jose City Hall. Nine companies were chosen, representing four application categories, best business plan, and four winners of the best technology innovation.

The winners were judged by a panel of Nokia executives, venture capitalists, and media representatives. They'll get a chance to pitch their ideas to Nokia's higher-ups and the venture capital community. With smartphones and mobile phones growing more and more capable, most companies in this market are looking to court developers for their platform. Apple will get around to it eventually.

Without further adieu, the winners:

Best Application - Multiplayer and Connected Games:
Gamica. The Sumo Sumo game is a multiplayer Tetris-like game where you have to build "clusters of colored blocks before you get squashed by a giant spike wall," according to the program description.

Best Application - Multimedia:
Mystrands. This company is building a social-networking music player, of sorts. They say they have 6 million songs available and help people discover new music by hooking them up with other users that share similar tastes.

Best Application - Enterprise:
Upcode. UpCode is building a mobile parking payment system that uses an optical scanner on a cell phone like a parking ticket. Instead of pushing the button for the ticket, and losing it later on, the idea is that you'd scan your cell phone to gain entry, and then pay later from your phone on the way out. Parking businesses then get the ability to track their customers' habits more closely and adjust to peak demand, offer specials, or change pricing.

Best Application - Infotainment:
Earthcomber. These guys are working on ways to exploit GPS technology in mobile phones. Their winning entry involved a partnership with the Travel Channel where a visitor to Chicago could choose to be informed of attractions and sites around his or her current location.

Best Business Plan:
MedApps. MedApps is developing a product that lets patients with chronic diseases submit their most recent vital stats, like heart rate or blood sugar levels, wirelessly over the Internet to a health care provider.

Best Technology Innovation:
Four winners were chosen from the 12 finalists in this category. Genusion has developed a type of NOR flash memory called B4-Flash that is supposedly faster, cheaper, and more reliable than what's currently available. Kannuu's lookup application combs through databases to find likely results.

Kareline came up with a natural and Earth-friendly composite material for mobile phones than today's plastics. And Tiki Labs is probably thinking about iPhone 2.0, having developed a system for interacting with a touchscreen using different combinations of thumbs and fingers.