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CAA marries talent, apps

Agency, Qualcomm launch Creative Mobile Labs

Creative Artists Agency is dialing up efforts to help its clients own a piece of the growing mobile apps market. The tenpercentery has launched Creative Mobile Labs as a co-venture with cellphone chip giant Qualcomm.

Company will co-develop concepts with talent to publish as mobile apps for a variety of platforms, from smartphones to tablets.

A CEO will be revealed in the coming weeks who will run the Los Angeles-based startup from CAA’s offices and oversee the hiring of staff.

A separate company will incentivize management to focus on helping talent “crack the code” of creating innovative new apps, Michael Yanover, CAA’s head of business development, told Variety.

CML’s formation occurs as the sale of mobile apps is expected to generate $15 billion this year and more than $58 billion within three years, according to research firm Gartner — especially as more consumers buy smartphones, including the newly launched iPhone 4 on Verizon.

CAA views apps as an opportunity for clients to launch new franchises and test the creative waters with properties that don’t require risking millions of dollars to make.

It cites games like “Angry Birds,” “Talking Tom Cat,” “Doodle Jump” and “Bubble Ball” that have been embraced by cellphone users worldwide and turned into major moneymakers that can cross over into movies, TV shows, toys and spinoffs.

“If you’re a creator today and you want to create the next ‘SpongeBob,’ maybe kids are playing apps more than they’re watching TV,” Yanover said. “Doing it as an app may be less expensive.”

However, CAA stresses that CML won’t just create games. Mobile apps have also done well in the health and fitness, music and lifestyle categories.

For Qualcomm, investing in the new venture will give the company a talent pool it can turn to as it builds out its own mobile apps store, Brew, with more programs to compete with Apple, Google, Research in Motion, Windows, Nokia, Palm and a slew of others. Apple’s App store alone offers up more than 300,000 apps.

Brew has essentially served as the generic brand-free app store available on handsets from carriers like Verizon and AT&T. Over the past decade, the store has generated more than $3 billion from the sale of apps, which can take from three months to a year to create.

Qualcomm recently wrapped up a contest for developers to create apps that showcase the company’s 3D augmented reality software that will be showcased at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this month.

“We want to push the envelope of the experiences consumers can have,” said Isaac Babbs, VP and general manager for Qualcomm Services Labs, the Qualcomm subsid behind CML.

“We’re not saying that because Hollywood and technology is coming together it’s going to change the world,” Babbs added. “We’re saying because we really know this space and how to get it done, we can take whatever ideas talent have and create some great applications.”

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