The past year has been pivotal for mobile tech. From the introduction of the iPad 2 and Android’s continuing momentum to Nokia’s surprising wholesale jump and Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 OS, it has certainly been a busy 12 months.
Thousands of talented company employees are responsible for the design, production, manufacturing, and sales of successful products. Narrowing this pool down to a group of just 25 key leaders was a tough job. But it’s clear that their drive and vision have provided direction in the hottest segment of the tech industry. The rest just follow along. Without further ado, here is LAPTOP’s fourth-annual list of the 25 most influential people in mobile technology.
Chairman and CEO, ASUS
ASUS practically invented the netbook industry under Shih’s direction a few years ago. And the company is still a major player, even as tablets begin to steal the spotlight. Shih is taking direct aim at the iPad and other Honeycomb tablets with its aggressively priced and versatile Eee Pad Transformer, a tablet that docks into a keyboard.
Boasting integrated social networking, sharing, and beautiful layouts, Flipboard has inspired a rash of copycat apps; clear-cut evidence of McCue’s success in delivering an enhanced magazine-like experience. Flipboard recently raised $50 million, giving the start-up a $200 million valuation. Sound high for an app with no clear revenue model yet? Given that McCue sold TellMe to Microsoft for $800 million, we certainly wouldn’t bet against him.
Chairman and president, Foxconn
Foxconn is the most important electronics manufacturing company you’ve probably never heard of. It produces everything from iPhones to Dell computers and Sony video game consoles. Chairman Terry Gou has come under fire for poor conditions across the company’s 20-plus factories in China, but he’s pushing ahead into new territories. Reports say Gou is expanding into Brazil to make Apple products, a $12 billion investment over five years.
CEO, Adobe Systems
Shantanu Narayen has become somewhat of a punching bag for Flash’s bugginess and slow performance. But his company is fighting back with Flash Player 10.2 for mobile, which should bring a smoother experience to tablets and phones. Meanwhile, many are embracing the company’s AIR platform for developing mobile apps on Android and the BlackBerry PlayBook. But Narayen also needs to be nimble, which is why he’s rolling out a Flash-to-HTML5 conversion tool for developers and designers.
President, LG Mobile Phones
LG’s mobile division has slipped in recent years, as it jumped on the smart phone bandwagon too late. A late surge in shrewdly designed, budget-priced Android handsets, dubbed Optimus, has helped LG gain a stronger presence on major U.S. carriers. Now Hwang is setting his sights on the higher end with the T-Mobile G-Slate (the company’s first Honeycomb tablet) and dual-core–powered G2x phone.