Baltimore’s burgeoning mobile app economy

October 25, 2011

Out of basements and grandparents’ guest rooms, during meetups at the city’s tech incubator and across distributed workforces who bond over barbecues, Baltimore’s slice of what’s expected to soon be a $25 billion industry is filling in.

Through the eyes of three entrepenuers, my paper’s technology reporter, Gus Sentementes, told the beginning of this developing story Sunday, comparing it to the e-commerce explosion of the 90s.

Right now, when most people hear the word “app,” they think native app. As a proponent of Web apps, I was pleased to see Gus give them a mention and so succinctly explain the difference between the two kinds. 

 Read his article on your mobile device or on your PC.


What’s Baltimore building?

The developers Gus profiled, who for the most part are doing work for clients such as Johns Hopkins University, the National Archives and Long & Foster rather than marketing directly to consumers, favor iPhone and iPad native apps. So, unfortunately, this Droid boy can’t play with a lot of their creations.

Nonetheless, I was curious about just what’s being built here in Baltimore. Here are some featured apps by the companies mentioned in Gus’s story and others with Baltimore ties. If you have the right device, give ’em a spin and share your take in the comments on how the developers are representing Charm City.

Mindgrub: Johns Hopkins University Homewood Campus

iPhone | Free

Campus guide gives walking directions, guided tours, tells what’s nearby and tracks construction and renovations.

Shawn’s Bits: PosePad

iPad | $4.99

Photoshoot organizer lets photographers save example poses, append notes and hand-drawn lighting diagrams and order and classify it all to complement their workflow.

Campfire Apps: Henry’s Spooky Headlamp

iPhone and iPad | Free

Seek and find game for preschoolers. Players tap and hold to move light beam and hunt for spooky objects.

Accella*: Today’s Document

iPhone, iPad and Android | Free

Showcases a daily National Archives document tied to that day in history. Users can jump forward or back a day, choose an arbitrary day, or, like a pre-Web (in some cases, pre-electricity) StumbleUpon, ask for a random one. Documents’ backstories and favoriting ability also included.

* Distributed workforce, based in Baltimore, is principally in the Mid-Alantic

Parking Panda+

Web app | Free (developer gets 20% of each sale)

Matches owners of unused parking spaces with drivers and processes transactions between parties. Owners indicate when the spot is available, upload photos and details, name their price and let the app handle the rest. Drivers can enter their destination and search ahead of time or browse spots closest to their current location.

+ Launched in Baltimore, now based in New York

Dilly Dally Apps: Happy Hour Baltimore

iPhone | Free

Locate bars and restaurants offering specials, events like trivia or amentities like outdoor seating. Receive “dispatches” straight from proprietors. Call a cab.

Baltimore 311^

iPhone, Android and Web app

Tell the city government about safety and quality-of-life issues like felled trees, misleading signs and grafitti and track when yours or others’ requests are acted upon. Data is additionally posted to an automated Twitter feed. Built on Open 311 standard.

^ Developed by New Hampshire-based Connected Bits

MGH: Ocean City, MD – Official App

iPhone and Android | Free

Guide to the beach resort town developed for Ocean City, MD Department of Tourism. Helps users hunt for real-time deals, accommodations, dining, activities, events and services and keep an eye on Twitter updates and weather reports.

Latman Interactive: Qach!

iPhone and Android | Free

Game: Save the ducks by catching and juggling falling eggs until they hatch.

Global Apptitude: Ravens iPad playbook

iPad | Proprietary

The Ravens are one of two NFL teams to replace binders with computer tablets. The app lets players check playbooks, watch film and review motivational messages. To keep game plans from leaking to rivals, data are set to self-destruct shortly after each contest.

Creative Commons image by Flickr user llimllib

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