Yesterday, a group of researchers from the University of Ottawa School of Business asked us what the new game-breaking social applications will be. No one knows what the next Twitter will be, but it’s fairly certain it will come from the mobile world. Last night’s “Mobile Trends in a Changing World” event, hosted by L’Atelier and Stephane Delbecque, brought representatives of four of the most innovative mobile application companies together to explore the evolving world of mobile social networking and organizing. The four companies represent the major trends in mobile: payments, media sharing, location-based social networking and mobile health


Errika Arrone, VP of Business Development at Zong, introduced us to the burgeoning mobile-payment market. What was most fascinating is that mobile payments have a significantly higher rate of conversion than credit card purchases.

Credit cards have only a five percent conversion rate, while mobile payments convert at 50 percent. One of the keys is streamlining: the more information (read: characters typed) a customer has to enter when making a purchase, the smaller the chance of conversion.

With Zong, all customers need to enter is their phone number. The fewer characters typed per purchase, the higher the sales.

Adam Zbar, CEO and co-founder of Zannel, introduced his media-sharing application, which is being used by Dane Cook (“My Best Friend’s Girl”) to document his current tour.

Zannel makes photo and video sharing on Twitter easy. For a startup, getting a celeb like Dane Cook -- whose career is largely due to social media -- to use (and thus endorse) the product is a major coup.

Rob Lawson, CMO and co-founder of Britekite, represented location-based social networking, something that’s been starting to take off since SXSW in March.

As Web sensibilities and phenomenologies expand to the physical world, services like Britekite, which allows you to know not only if your friends are in the neighborhood, but also if someone with common interests is, should become a cornerstone of social networking when smartphone adoption reaches critical mass.

Finally, Executive Director of FrontlineSMS:Medic (and Stanford undergrad), Josh Neshbit, explained how an SMS-based network was able to transform the health care industry in Malawi.

Inspired by a five-week trip to the southeast African country, Neshbit created a cell-based service that essentially built a health-response infrastructure in an area where patients and health-care workers are spread across a vast physical distance.

These four companies represent what we think are the most important emerging trends. It’s hard to believe that mobile applications really didn’t take off until last summer, as so many innovative products seem to hit the market each day. It’s safe to say that, when people start to draw up the Web 2.0/Web 3.0 comparison lists in several years, mobile will occupy the place that broadband took in 2004.

By Mark Alvarez