A recent survey of eleven major US carriers revealed that the average monthly contract of smart phone users, who now comprise 31% of the entire wireless market, is $86, versus $55 for non-smart phones. So what are we getting for the extra $31 bucks? Most people who upgrade to a smart phone will tell you the reason is apps. Launched in July, 2008 Apple’s App Store recently passed ten billion downloads, and now has more than 350,000 apps. While you may have little use for the iTinkle or the Justin Bieber app, most everyone with a smartphone uses at least one app that delivers real utility. Canadian listed tech companies have built some of the most powerful and popular apps in the world. In this issue we look at Canadian tech stocks making your smartphone smarter.
1. Open Text (TSX:OTC)
Threats against personal security are serious. Add the weight of a entire corporation’s or country’s data to the mix and the result is an increasingly paranoid environment where executives and politicians begin to shy away from modern technology tools. WikiLeaks, for instance, already has bankers worried about using the cloud. In more plain terms, CIO Insight Magazine says that “Businesses will face increasing liability issues from employees and contractors carrying and moving data from the inner sanctum of corporate data centers to interconnected servers via a mobile, wireless structure”.
Into these shark infested waters, Waterloo’s Open Text released social networking tools that offer what the company calls “enterprise-strength security controls.”
Open Text is a spinoff that grew out of a collaboration between the University of Waterloo and Oxford University Press to computerize the Oxford English Dictionary. The search technology developed for that project, which incorporated full-text indexing and string-search technology, was recognized as being useful for other electronic applications. By 1995, Open Text was providing the search technology used by Yahoo! as part of its Web index. Today, with nearly a billion dollars in annual revenue, the company is recognized as a world leader in enterprise content management (ECM) software solutions.
If Open Text is beta testing their enterprise security tools, they aren’t messing around. For the first time ever, the company recently announced, “social media tools had been used at a G-20 to help participants work together during the forum. ”
According to Open Text “G-20 organizers avoided use of consumer-grade social media tools, which lack enterprise-strength security controls. At the same time, social media offers better ways for people to connect, share and collaborate, than email, so a solution that combined the benefits while reducing the risks was needed.”
2. Redknee (TSX:RKN)
Ever get a cell phone bill in the mail that felt a little heavy? An estimated one in six cell phone users know the feeling of a bill that is a lot larger than they expected. The phenomenon is so common that the US Federal Government has gotten involved. The Cell Phone Bill Shock Act of 2010 would require carriers to notify customers by email or text message free of charge when they have used 80 percent of their monthly limits under their current plan. Of course, in order to notify you that you have hit this mark the carrier itself has to be aware of it. Redknee’s billing solutions run the gamut from the customer side to helping service providers better monitor, understand and monetize their subscriber base. Cantech Letter recently talked to Lucas Solkowski, who founded the company is his apartment solarium and now oversees its $50 million in annual sales, to talk about what’s next for Redknee.
3. Tio Networks (TSXV:TNC)
California, the home of Apple, Intel, Cisco and Oracle, is a worldwide mecca for technology. British Columbia is not. So when PG&E, a utility that powers two-thirds of California wanted a mobile payment application they looked to….Vancouver’s Tio Networks? The PG&E app, which launched in mid-February, was a high-profile win for Tio Networks, but it is far from Tio’s only recent success, the company has more than doubled its revenue since 2007, to more than $27 million in fiscal 2010. Tio Networks, specializes in billing solutions to the “unbanked”; a segment of society that, in the US alone, could be as many as thirty million households that simply do not deal with conventional banks. The Company now serves more than 700,000 people a month.
4. Call Genie (TSXV:GNE)
Change begets change. In 2009, the use of social networks eclipsed the use of email. By 2015, says Morgan Stanley, the number of searches made on mobile devices will pass those made on desktop computers. The ramifications for mobile, economically, could be even greater than the initial adoption of the internet itself, says Michael Durance, President of Call Genie. Durance, who cut his teeth at Nortel and Toshiba before taking the helm of the Toronto based mobile solutions provider, believes a generation of “digital natives” are changing the rules of e-commerce right before our eyes. And Call Genie, which has spent at least six years and nearly sixty-million dollars to develop technology that helps networks such as Verizon, AT&T contextualize and monetize their user bases, is set to become the “arms dealer” in the war for the mobile consumer. In a comprehensive one on one, Cantech Letter sat down with Durance to talk about that battle and his company’s place in it.
5. InterMap (TSX:IMP)
You could accuse Intermap, a Calgary based company that has lost gobs of cash and whose stock has been mired in a painful four year slump of many things, but a lack of ambition wouldn’t be one of them. Intermap’s NEXTMap project provides 3D digital elevation models of all of Western Europe, the United States and parts of Southeast Asia. The NEXTMap data library contains more than 12 million square km of high-resolution elevation data, and provides realistic displays of topographic information including vegetation and cultural features such as buildings and roads. To date, InterMap is disappointed with their ability to monetize NextMap, which it believes could be used for uses diverse as floodplain management, energy exploration and insurance risk management. But this is of little concern to user of the company’s, Accuterra app, which provides a sneak peak into the NEXTMap world and is a dream come true for skiers and hikers. Hiking blog Modern Hiker (yep there’s a special interest mag for everything these days, er, even Canadian tech stocks…) said that “AccuTerra is by far the easiest, most full-featured, and slickest hiking App I have seen to date..”