mobilebeat-logoThe first half of the startup competition at our MobileBeat conference today in San Francisco is starting now. Hosted by CNET TV’s Natali Del Conte, seven companies (selected from hundreds of applicants) will try to convince the judges that they offer the best mobile service.

Here are the companies, what they do, and the news they’re announcing on-stage:

appstorehqAppStoreHQ is a discovery service for iPhone applications. Comparing itself to news aggregator Techmeme, AppStoreHQ aggregates and scores writing about iPhone apps on leading tech blogs and iPhone-focused sites. It features lists of both new iPhone app coverage and of “hottest” apps. The company is in the early part of its public beta test, and is also working on developer tools, plus a way to bring its app search features to other sites. Today, it’s announcing $150,000 in seed funding from Founders Co-op.

appvoyageAppVoyage is launching a new technology called AppPod that allows developers of mobile applications to incorporate some of the rich capabilities available to web developers. For example, the company says, the fbConnect application programming interface, which allows external websites to plug into Facebook data, is not available on platforms like Android and Symbian, but will be with AppPod. AppVoyage says this means apps will work across platforms (though it’s starting with Android), and can also tap into device features like a built-in camera.

bokuBOKU offers a payment system for digital goods and social experiences on mobile devices. It uses “bank-grade” payments technology and says it reaches 1.6 billion mobile users worldwide. Today, its payment technology will be used by mobile software maker Icebreaker’s Crush or Flush social network. Crush or Flush users can buy Coins, which they can then use to purchase virtual gifts. Among other things, that means Crush or Flush will be able, for the first time, to sell virtual gifts to customers whose phones don’t support WAP billing.

bustedloopBusted Loop says it wants to provide a free “snapshot” of data from Apple’s App Store, starting today. Its data will include the name, price, release, data, and popularity ranking for more than 60,000 iPhone apps. A new snapshot will be posted on the Busted Loop website each month. The company’s bigger mission is to track and analyze the app marketplace, and it has released data like the fact that it would cost $144,326.06 to buy every app in the app store.

touchnoteTouchnote says its new TouchnoteThis services allows any phone application to print an image and mail it to anywhere in the world. Initially, this will allow developers to include a feature in their apps that allow users to print and send photos as a postcard. The company claims this will take less than one hour to integrate into your app.

urbanairship1Urban Airship says its services will help mobile app developers increase engagement and make money, using tools in the iPhone 3.0 operating system such as push notification and in-app platforms. The company says it’s “shipping live code” well ahead of its competitors, and will eventually move to other platforms.

zosZOS Communciations is creating location applications for multiple mobile platforms. Its first application, a “location messaging” tool called Zhiing, was released in May. It allows users to share their location via an instant messaging-style interface.

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