One of the fun things about being early to a phenomenon like mobile apps is that you get to see a new technology touch of peoples’ lives in ways that seemed impossible at the start. I started my first mobile app company back in 2007, a year before the launch of Apple’s App Store. Since then, I’ve watched companies and brands learn the difference between one-off campaign apps and apps that drive revenues, profits, and long-term customer growth. Now we’ve got behemoths such as Snap and Uber that wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for customers’ easy acceptance of mobile apps. To me, that’s pretty exciting.
I started my latest company, Carnival.io, in New Zealand, and moved it to the U.S. in 2014. I was immediately impressed with the level of talent here. At Carnival.io, we work with a massive number of mobile agencies and partner with the world’s biggest brands to deliver their push notifications and in-app messages to drive more engagement for their app.
Here are 10 agencies that have impressed us the most – the ones we’d want to work with if we were a business with an app proposal. We’re happy to make an intro if you’re ever looking for a fantastic mobile partner or you’re building a new app. You can reach us at email@example.com, and you can read more about our agency partner program here.
The Best of the Best Mobile Agencies: Our Top 6 Picks
Prolific Interactive, New York.
Prolific was founded seven years ago by Eric Weber and Bobak Emamian, who met while playing baseball at Quinnipiac University. They quickly realized that some of the best talent and clients in the world were just a few miles south, and relocated to Brooklyn. Now, Prolific is all about the consumer experience. They built the first iOS app for SoulCycle, enabling the company’s devoted cyclists to book classes quickly – crucial, given that the most popular SoulCycle classes often sell out in just a minute or two. Prolific has also worked with other well-known brands such as American Express, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Old Navy.
- Portfolio examples: SoulCycle, Sephora, Saks Fifth Avenue, Old Navy
- App categories: ecommerce, retail, CPG, health and fitness
- Follow on twitter: @weareprolific
Mutual Mobile, Austin.
Mutual Mobile, founded by five Austin college students back in 2009, is at home on the bleeding edge. For years, that’s meant developing mobile apps for big players such as Flexdrive and J Hilburn. It recently built the Under Armour Shop, which sifts data from Under Armour’s connected fitness community—170 million strong—to suggest gear. Now, Mutual Mobile refers to itself as an emerging technology company, and is amping up its capabilities in virtual reality and internet of things technology.
- Portfolio examples: Flexdrive, Under Armour, J. Hilburn
- App categories: retail, loyalty, global brands, connected devices
- Follow on twitter: @MutualMobile
Raizlabs, Boston and Oakland.
Like other top agencies, Raizlabs is moving beyond the confines of traditional mobile app development to integrate technologies from artificial intelligence, internet of things, virtual reality, and augmented reality. Their clients have ranged from Costco to Six Flags to athenahealth. One of their recent successes: BlindWays, developed with Perkins School for the Blind, which makes it easier for people who are visually impaired to use public transportation.
- Portfolio examples: Six Flags, Rue La La, Hubspot
- App categories: retail, ecommerce, technology, health
- Follow on twitter: @raizlabs
Fueled, New York.
Fueled describes itself as a mobile product agency. They’re less interested in building whatever projects come in the door than they are in working with clients to understand their business objectives, and to build something that will reach them. They’re serious about mobile strategy and planning, as well as design and development. They work primarily with two types of clients: Big brands and venture-funded startups. Recently, that’s meant Rite Aid and IBM as well as Warby Parker and QuizUp.
- Portfolio examples: Warby Parker, Verizon, QuizUp
- App categories: retail, technology, startups
- Follow on twitter: @fueled
Fuzz Productions, New York.
Fuzz Productions was founded in 2001, making it among the pioneers in mobile development. In the past 16 years they’ve launched hundreds of iOS, Android, and responsive web projects for Fortune 500 companies and also for innovative startups. They’re committed to agile product development, and their employees all work in-house from offices in Brooklyn, Boulder, and Los Angeles. Their recent work includes apps for Shake Shack, Wegmans, and CBS. And oh, they’ve won two Cannes Lion awards.
- Portfolio examples: Shake Shack, Forever 21, tkts
- App categories: food and beverages, media, entertainment, retail, publishing, travel
- Follow on twitter: @fuzzpro
Bottle Rocket, Addison, Texas.
Calvin Carter founded Bottle Rocket the day after the App Store opened to third-party developers, back in 2008. Since then, it’s won clients such as Starwood, BET, and Chick-fil-A. Bottle Rocket prides itself on the development of native frameworks, platforms and solutions that are unique to Bottle Rocket. The firm works across all sorts of platforms – iOS, Android, streaming devices, wearables, virtual reality, and television, and has recently opened offices in New York and London.
- Portfolio examples: Starwood, Coca-Cola, Chick-fil-A
- App categories: travel, CPG, media, retail
- Follow on twitter: @_bottlerocket
Highly Recommended: 4 Honorable Mentions
Dom & Tom, New York.
Dom and Tom was founded by twins, Dom and Tom Tancredi, who originally launched the company from their apartment. By 2010 they’d manage to swing some incubator space at New York University; now, they’re known for digital strategy, UX, and UI design, and mobile development. Dom takes care of the tech; Tom’s in charge of business strategy. With particular strengths in the financial and publishing industries, Dom & Tom have developed more than 100 native mobile apps for clients including General Electric, Citibank, and Bloomberg.
- Portfolio examples: Priceline, General Electric, Cliffsnotes
- App categories: media, education, consulting firms, food and beverage, entertainment, healthcare, financial services, travel, art
- Follow on twitter: @dom_and_tom
Possible Mobile, Denver.
POSSIBLE Mobile, formerly Double Encore, has grown to be a leader in the mobile space due to their own digital expertise and by partnering with leading mobile application shop, Xcellent Creations. The current CEO, Ben Reubenstein, has years of experience in mobile development & strategy, starting by building one of the first 150 apps in both the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store. Ben leads an elite team of mobile-centric professionals to delight customers. POSSIBLE Mobile has built apps for JetBlue, Major League Soccer, PGA Tour, GSK, and Turner. In addition to building mobile apps, POSSIBLE Mobile also has in-depth experience executing on a wide variety of other platforms including Alexa, Chromecast, Apple TV, Apple Watch, Android Wear, and Roku.
- Portfolio examples: JetBlue, Major League Soccer, PGA Tour, GSK
- App Categories: sports, travel, health, food and drink
- Follow on Twitter: @POSSIBLEmobile
App Partner, New York.
App Partner is a Brooklyn-based app development firm that works with Fortune 500 brands, leading retailers, funded startups and more to craft digital products and strategies that solve business problems and drive measurable results. There’s a reason “Partner” is in their name. They exist to help organizations achieve sustainable, long-term success. That means acting like part of the team, not just a vendor. That means offering insight and candid counsel at every stage of the engagement. And that means continuing to provide strategic value in the days, weeks and years after an app’s launch.
- Portfolio examples: B&H, WeightWatchers Scales by Conair, goTenna
- App categories: Retail, Consumer Products, Startups
- Follow on twitter: @AppPartner
Y Media Labs, SF Bay Area.
Y Media has developed and launched mobile apps used by more than 300 million people around the world. An early coup was an app it made for a company called Montessorium, which garnered an appreciative note from Steve Jobs. Not surprisingly, its clients have included Apple and Facebook, as well as L’Oreal and Sesame Street. In 2016, Y Media announced that it was expanding beyond mobile app development to product branding, web development, and digital design.
- Portfolio examples: PayPal, L’Oreal, Staples
- App categories: retail, ecommerce, media, technology, health and beauty
- Follow on twitter: @ymedialabs
Mobikasa, New York.
Mobikasa was established in 2008, and its business is now about evenly split between mobile web development and mobile apps. The focus: driving traffic and increasing profitability. They’ve built apps for 1-800-Flowers, Milk & Eggs, and Limeroad, among others.