Pinch Media – Investing on a New Platform

New platforms create new opportunities. One would think that established vendors with big balance sheets, big investments in R&D, and established brands would quickly move onto a meaningful new platform, using their market power to prevent new entrants from creating a defensible beachhead there. But, that rarely seems to happen. More often, the winners are agile young companies who exploit the unique characteristics of that platform to create innovative and differentiated applications and services.

The iPhone is a new platform. On one hand it seems ridiculous to say that about a device that is so new and has such a small share of the mobile phone market. Earlier this week the New York Times quoted Edward Snyder, an equity analyst, saying that Nokia sells more phones every week than Apple has sold since the introduction of the iPhone. On the other hand, the New York Times was writing about the feverish speculation over the next version of the iPhone expected out next week, because everyone, at some level, understands that Apple has changed the game in the mobile space; subtly but significantly shifting the balance of power in the mobile space away from the carriers.

The release of the iPhone SDK (software development kit) will further open a market to innovation. The iPhone SDK is the first hint of a new, more open platform for the development of applications and services that people carry in their pocket. This is a big deal. It will open up a new market for innovative consumer services and will likely give rise to a slew of new companies architected from the outset to capitalize on the unique capabilities of this new platform.

We expect one of those companies to be Pinch Media. Greg Yardley and Jesse Rohland founded Pinch Media because they were convinced that the confluence of more capable smart phones, high quality mobile web browsers, and open mobile development environments with unique capabilities like location awareness, peer to peer networking, and lots of local storage would lead to an important tipping point. Greg and Jesse are convinced (and they convinced us) that within the next year, consumers who have become jaded by the hobbled capabilities of mobile services will start to see services that are actually more capable and more immediately useful than the ones they have come to know and love on the desktop.

Today, Pinch Media is launching an analytics service to help this new breed of application developer create and tune services for the iPhone market. The company’s services are designed from the ground up to effectively measure the usage characteristics of mobile services exploiting the unique capabilities of the iPhone SDK. Ultimately, the company will offer additional services to developers that will enable them to build profitable relationships with marketers, all without compromising the user’s experience.

We are excited to be working with Greg and Jesse in this new market and pleased to be co-investing with our friends at First Round Capital.