Welcome to the Future

5:45 PM -- It is a good time to be a smaller fish in the mobile pool right now.

Indeed, even as major players like Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and BlackBerry cut jobs, Rutberg & Co. says that venture funding for wireless start-ups is at its highest level for at least 10 years.

The firm said in a report Tuesday that $3 billion in VC money has been put up in the first half of 2011, representing 42 percent of all tech venture capital.

In part, I believe this investment bump is happening because we're starting to see how the future of mobile is shaping up and many want to get in on the ground floor (or as close as possible).

Look at some of the largest investments this year so far: $100 million for Square, Inc., which has developed a mobile credit card reader, while Foursquare Labs, Inc., the trendy location-aware social networking site, grabbed $50 million.

Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM), meanwhile, is buying up some gesture recognition assets from GestureTek, and Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) is rumored to have face recognition in its forthcoming iPhone 5.

All pretty zeitgeisty, right there, but it shines a light on the evolving face of mobile, where the race to the next innovation in the user interface and the need to develop better mobile payment systems for the future is becoming as important as the infrastructure and silicon elements that have attracted the big bucks in the past.

Underpinning all this is the growth of 4G and the evolution of 3G. Without the fast connectivity offered by Long Term Evolution (LTE), Wi-Fi, WiMax and HSPA+ -- without faster mobile broadband -- many of the multimedia apps that are popular now would have been difficult to sell to the public in the first place.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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