Home Linda Baker's Blog Creating value with mobile apps

Creating value with mobile apps

| Print |  Email
Linda Baker
Wednesday, May 30, 2012

BY LINDA BAKER

Everyone has an opinion about Facebook’s IPO mess and what it means for the Zuckerberg enterprise, tech IPOs, and civilization as we know it. For Astrid Scholz, executive vice president at Ecotrust, a market based environmental nonprofit, Facebook’s botched public offering yields two lessons. The first:  “you can’t make money off platforms per se.”  Instead, successful digital companies are those that actually sell tangible products and services: Amazon and Apple, for example.

Scholz’ second conclusion is more provocative.  Most internet business models revolve around one of three things: getting more eyeballs on the page, selling things or meeting people.  But perhaps “that phase of technology is running its course,” says Scholz. The next phase, she suggests, will be “to create software solutions that actually do useful things.”

Here one catches the whiff of the moralist. After all, one person’s use value is another person’s junk.  Yet Scholz’ point is well taken. What value has been created by Facebook, Google and the dizzying array of mobile apps?  How can we harness the power of the digital world to add more value — and then monetize that value with innovative business models?

I spoke with Scholz last month as I was researching my June cover story on green transformation; we followed up with another chat this week. (The Facebook IPO was just a happy coincidence). In the past few years, Ecotrust has been developing or co-developing its own digital tools, several focused on nurturing a more sustainable, or resilient, marine and fisheries sector.  “The questions we were asking weren’t addressed by Windows or Google, so we decided to build them ourselves,” Scholz says.

These tools include Digital Deck, a mobile technology tool that provides real-time access to catch information — collected from the boat deck — to help consumers, wholesalers and conservationists learn if fish is sustainably harvested. Another is Marine Map, a web-based open source platform that helps users, including fisherman and conservationists, visualize social ecological, and regulatory features of the marine environment.

These technologies serve a variety of data collection and consumer functions, offering marine planners fine grained information about the ocean environment and potentially offering more information to the consumer about the origins and quality of the fish they are buying. To that end, Ecotrust’s tools are similar to the "Smart Farmer" trend described in my green story, in which emerging mobile apps enable farmers to convey information to consumers and regulators about environmental and food safety.

MarineMap won a 2011 Tech Award — an international award that honors companies and nonprofits using technology to “benefit humanity.” 

Many things benefit humanity: food, water, clothes, games, even social networks. For  Scholz, one of the lessons gleaned from the Facebook debacle is  “the Internet hasn't grown up yet."  It’s also a call to arms: harness digital technology to create a new generation of value added web platforms and mobile apps.

Linda Baker is managing editor of Oregon Business.

 

More Articles

South Waterfront's revenge

News
Thursday, July 24, 2014
MoodyAveBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Remember the naysayers?  Those who called the South Waterfront aerial tram a boondoggle?  Those who rejoiced at the massive sell off of luxury condos at the John Ross and Atwater Place?


Read more...

Oversight? Or gaming the system?

News
Monday, July 14, 2014
AmazonBY VIVIAN MCINERNY | OB BLOGGER

Some people think Amazon’s winking eye logo is starting to look like a hoodwink.


Read more...

The Scott Kveton affair

News
Wednesday, July 09, 2014
ScottKvetonBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Scott Kveton, the CEO of Urban Airship is taking a leave of absence from the company. As the story continues to unfold, here’s our perspective on a few of the key players.


Read more...

Q&A: David Lively of Organically Grown Co.

News
Tuesday, July 01, 2014
OGCLogoBY HANNAH WALLACE | OB BLOGGER

Demand for organic food continues to soar: Last year, sales of organic food rose to $32.3 billion — up 10% from 2012. In Oregon, organic produce wholesaler Organically Grown Co. has been championing organic growing methods for four decades.


Read more...

OB Video: Oregon MESA

News
Thursday, June 26, 2014

ThumbOregon Business hosts an informal roundtable discussion about the Oregon MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement) program.


Read more...

Oregon Business wins awards

News
Monday, June 30, 2014

ASBPEOregon Business magazine won two silver awards for excellence in writing in the National American Society of Business Publication Editors Western region competition.


Read more...

Who said we should sell in May?

Contributed Blogs
Friday, July 18, 2014
BullMarketBY JASON NORRIS | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

Back in May, we shared a common Wall Street quote about investing, “Sell in May and go away.” Fast forward to July and the most common question we have been getting from clients is, “When is the market pullback going to occur?”


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS