How a local startup called Mobiroo is aiming to provide a home for the greatest and safest apps for your Blackberry or Android, and give you a discount in the process.
By now it’s no secret that Toronto is a global leader in the world of mobile-app development. The city is home to over 200 mobile app companies, making it one of the biggest hotbeds for the dazzlingly creative ideas that make staring at our smartphones such an addictive pastime.
But in such a crowded marketplace, one that develops new and exciting ideas at such a furious pace, it can be a challenge for the casual user to keep tabs on the latest, greatest and safest apps for their phone.
One local startup, a company called Mobiroo, which began in a Thornhill basement in 2009, is aiming to showcase the world’s best apps and provide discounts at the same time.
The Toronto-based company markets itself as the world’s first provider of mobile-app gift cards, which come in two denominations and allow the recipient to stock their Blackberry or Android device with many more apps than they paid for ($25 gets you $35 worth of apps, for example). The cards are sold at retailers like Future Shop, Zellers and 7-Eleven, and the company has positioned itself as a stocking stuffer for anyone who views their smartphone as a best friend and ever-present companion.
It’s a great deal and all, but the real reason to use Mobiroo is to protect yourself from hackers. The gift cards are redeemed on Mobiroo’s own website, where the company puts each app through a rigorous vetting process designed to ensure quality and security.
“We run our own platform outside of Blackberry App World or Android Market,” explains Vinay Chopra, Mobiroo’s founder and CEO. “It’s our own storefront, [which] gives us the control to show off the best of the best, and more importantly, to make sure all the apps are completely safe and secure. Virus-free and malware-free.”
The open-source nature of Blackberry and Android is a dream for unknown app developers worldwide, but that freedom is a double-edged sword—it opens the user up to the kind of issues that can allow wireless terrorists to steal your data and open the virus floodgates.
Chopra says Mobiroo’s testing eliminates these pitfalls.
“On Android Market, they will mostly allow any software or app to get on there with little or no testing. Granted, they have hundreds of thousands of apps, but that’s a by-product of doing that—you start opening yourself up to malware and viruses.”
None of us have hours to waste tracking down the apps that won’t leave us hacked and phone-less, which is why Mobiroo puts in the time and research to unearth the apps you’d probably never hear about otherwise.
“A lot of it is word of mouth,” Chopra says. “We search blogs to really find those hidden jewels that have a tough time to be getting known, but they’re just incredible apps. We curate it, so instead of [choosing from] 86 Sudoku games, you get the best one. And you can be sure it’s completely safe.”
Now that Mobiroo has landed on Deloitte’s Companies to Watch list, Blackberry and Android users will likely begin to flood to their site, and, as usual, iPhone users will have to fend for themselves (and pay full price while they’re doing it). Apple’s App Store is a closed platform, which Chopra says makes running a service like Mobiroo on the iPhone simply impossible. Thanks for nothing, Steve!