Featured Member: Christian Erichsen

By on May 14, 2012

Current Location: Bethesda, MD
Current Gig: CEO, Mobiletech
Quick and Dirty Resume: Learned to drive small boats fast in the shallow waters with the Norwegian Naval Academy. Used that skill to then navigate through the IT boom in the late 90´s in the banking industry. During this time, I also developed a passion for mobile, which led to creation of Mobiletech in 2005, where I am today –- still at full speed!
Six-word memoir: Aim high, watch for returning arrow.
Favorite fictional character: That’s easy — Carl Hamilton, or Coq Rouge from Jan Guillou´s famous spy novels.
Favorite tech tool? The Sonos music system. Really love having online streaming music from Pandora or Spotify in all rooms. Of course, I can control it with the ease of an iPhone.

What happens during your average day?

It´s pretty exciting these days. I´m commuting between Bethesda and Oslo, Norway, and trying to keep the ship back in Norway happy while building up the USA entity. Fortunately there are great people helping me in the U.S. and an amazing management team back in Norway. We continue to invest in our people to create a solid foundation for the future. We are also experience growth in our products and I think we are positioned well for the future. Entering the U.S. is like starting all over again — a startup within the company. I really look forward to getting our word out to the U.S. developer and corporate community.

While in Washington, I´m working with our local staff to develop plans for growing the U.S. market. It is definitely a challenge when compared to Scandinavia because of its size and competition. In addition, I am also deeply involved in coordinating activities with our technology partner Scientia Mobile. I think the world has underestimated the need for device detection to determine phone capabilities. It used to be that device detection was limited to feature phones, but it is even more important today in the “new world” of mobile smart phones and devices. Pretty much any device can surf the web today and knowing the capabilities is the key to a great user experience.

Why did you choose to get involved with online media?

It started in 2000 when I helped launch one of the first online Internet banking applications. It was a true “killer” app. At the time, we also saw the media sector adapt quickly to the internet, but we missed the boat at the time. When the mobile web then entered in the mid 2000’s, we quickly recognized that there weren’t any content tools available to support this new channel. Thus, I saw an opportunity to do something in the “second online wave” and luckily connected to some really smart guys from the Telecom sector. We wanted to build a solution to give any content owner full control over their content and distribution on the mobile web –- without being dependent on the carrier. (Remember those pesky carrier portals?) We built that platform and the media was the first to adopt our solution. We got all the big media brands in Scandinavia to use our platform and have been engaged in online media since.

What motivates your work at Mobiletech?

Great, smart and innovative people — willing to create their own future. The interaction between machines and people is completely changing. We have not experienced a bigger change in human behavior since the industrial revolution. Look what touch devices and touch gestures have done for us in the past year. These devices have sensors that adapt to the context you are in — shake your phone to delete an email. Where will voice recognition and Siri take us? In my opinion, (this is the) tip of the iceberg and the revolution of mobile technology is happening all around us now. I’m so lucky to be a part of this revolution and inventing great technology with Mobiletech.

From your perspective, what is the most difficult thing about creating publishing solutions for the news market?

Having the media’s attention long enough so we can really improve the solutions and business models. Today I feel that media is desperately seeking quick answers and fixes, but afraid of doing radical changes. I think the biggest challenge for media is not technology, but how to change and adapt to the way people interact. The media consumer of today has so many form factors and needs. I think it is wrong if the media tries to force the users into one particular pattern or channel, i.e. apps, responsive web, etc. Instead, they need to adapt, improvise, overcome, small steps at a time. Most importantly, they need to understand how their customers interact with their content and when they do it –- what content is accessed on what device and when.

What are the looming challenges for the mobile marketplace?

Network infrastructure. Everything is going mobile and bandwith will, and to some degree already is, the bottleneck. Even though we are building out LTE to get higher speed, the consumptions and demand for network access is growing faster than the infrastructure. We see this already with AT&T limiting the “unlimited usage.” Solution providers must think speed optimization when designing solutions. The devices are smart enough to deal with all kinds of data, but it is not effective to push a HD video to a device connected to a 3G network. Usability is not only fancy functionality working perfectly in a WiFi test suite. Solutions must also work across networks and be available every time. That’s why we call them connected devices. If we offer consumers great experiences, including access speed, features, functions, and so on, it will make the customer return and you will grow your revenue. The mobile user attention span is short, don’t kill the user experience with slow solutions.

If you had a million dollars dedicated to improving media, you would …
… continue to do even more of what we are doing today — creating great mobile development tools for the media space. Media can then focus on its core –- producing great content!