Friday, March 20, 2009

Silicon Valley is the center of mobile

Today I was reading the latest newsletter by Gerry Purdy, the Chief Analyst for mobile at Frost&Sullivan. It is titled "Silicon Valley 'Golden Triangle': Apple, Google, Microsoft and Palm Mobile Platforms".

He writes:
It seems amazing to me that five of the top six mobile platforms are being developed near each other within Silicon Valley (an area that is approximately South of Highway 92, North of Highway 17 and bounded on the East by the SF Bay and West the foothills, although there’s no real boundary). If you connect the locations of these companies, it looks like three points a triangle.

Apple is working on the iPhone platform (OS, App Store, iTunes) in Cupertino. Set that as point one. Go about 10 miles North West up Highway 85 to the Bayshore Freeway (Highway 101 at Rengstorff), and you’ll find Google working in Mountain View on the Android platform (Android OS, Market Place and general mobile apps such as search and maps). You’ll also find Microsoft working on much of Windows Mobile in their Mountain View campus at Shoreline & 101). Set that at point two. Go South East around 10 miles to Sunnyvale, and you’ll find Palm working on the new Pre platform (Web OS, Synergy and Apps Store). Set that as point three. And, if you go around 10 miles back South West from Palm you end up back in Cupertino at Apple.
He adds that there are just two other areas of mobile development, Helsinki (for Nokia) and Waterloo (for RIM), but the message is clear: Silicon Valley is the center of mobile.

Somehow, I struck me as a revelation. Although I have been living here for ten years, when I moved to the Valley in 1999 (ohhh, the good times ;-) Silicon Valley was so far away from the center of mobile. I mean, my grandma had a cellphone in Italy and in my Silicon Valley company, about to IPO, there were probably five people with a mobile device that was not a pager (what is a pager you ask, my fellow European? Well, you must have seen one in a movie about doctors... They were everywhere in the US).

I picked Silicon Valley for Funambol because I thought it was the best of the best to headquarter an high-tech startup. Even if mobile was nowhere to be found. Even if I was going to 3000 Sand Hill to meet VCs and my phone had no coverage, so I could not give them a live demo (last time I was there last year, the situation was not very different..). Even if driving from San Francisco to San Jose on 280 meant five dropped calls.

Back then, I thought I was fighting against the odds. Hard to find investors with knowledge of the wireless market worldwide (the differences are striking, from Japan to Europe to the US). Hard to convince people mobile was the next big thing. That Silicon Valley was best positioned to ride the next wave.

Boom! Look at it now. The Valley is the center of mobile.

I just did not realize that I picked Silicon Valley as a natural headquarter, and then the entire mobile world shifted here. It must be the weather.