What Comes After the Smartphone?


It’s time to talk about what a post-smartphone era will look like.

By: Don Shin, Founder & President

One of our jobs as technology consultants is to be on the lookout for new and potentially disruptive technologies for our clients and partners. In particular, we’re constantly on the lookout for what we would like to call the next “iPhone Scenario”: the tipping point where a technology explodes across work and life – and companies cannot afford to ignore the impact of those technologies on their respective industries. When the iPhone was introduced, the world already had Windows Phones and Palm Treos – but the iPhone marked the start of the smartphone revolution and the rich iOS and Android ecosystems that emerged in its wake.

We’ve been following a particular technology for quite some time, and believe that it is on the cusp of a breakout not unlike the way the smartphone revolution changed our relationship with technology. As a result, CrossComm has been quietly ramping up our capabilities in this maturing field- and believe that its now time to start educating our clients about the possibilities.

Do you want to know what it is?

Its Mixed Reality– and in the short-term, Virtual and Augmented Reality.

Don wearing A/R device
Don with Meta 2 AR headset

Mixed Reality is the seamless integration of 3D computer-generated imagery with what we visually perceive as the world around us; I’m not talking about the smartphone-enabled augmented reality experiences of yesteryear – or even about the latest virtual reality experiences of today (though these technologies are serving as a foundation for what is to come). Imagine seeing holograms of photos on your physical wall that change every day; holographic computer screens floating above your desk that you can move around with your hands, like in Minority Report; holographs of your remote co-workers during meetings; your personal health vital signs on a private holographic pane when you glance on your bare wrist. In the next 3 years, the advances in Virtual and Augmented Reality will make Mixed Reality increasingly accessible to the general public – and lead to a transformation of the way we work, play, and relate to each other. In short, its another “iPhone Scenario”.

To find out more on why CrossComm has been diving into VR, AR, and Mixed Reality (and why you should too), I’d like to invite you to sign-up for a complimentary 1-hour workshop (slots starting in July) where we can explore how VR and AR might affect your business – and how you can leverage the opportunities the technologies bring. If your need is urgent, contact us directly and we’ll try to accommodate for you.

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Additional blog posts will be published here on our VR/AR/MR outlook but in the meantime we are continuing to serve our clients on developing custom iOS, Android and web apps.

CrossComm has proven over the past 18 years to be capable in guiding client partners successfully from ideation to implementation – across a variety of platforms such as web, mobile, and now VR/AR/MR as well. We look forward to guiding our clients into a post-smartphone era. Let’s build something great together.

2015 Winter Team Summit

By: Justin Thomas, CEO

It’s one of my favorite times of the year: Christmas and our Winter Team Summit! It has been an exciting year with CrossComm being named the 2015 Minority Tech Firm of the Year, receiving “Best Media App” for our work on the U30 App with Forbes, and moving offices to the American Underground. We took two days to pause, reflect, and plan for 2016. Based on my business background and personality type, I absolutely love these strategy sessions.

We focused on what really matters- inspiring our team and listening to our clients. I firmly believe in the Service Profit Chain Theory, which links employee satisfaction to customer satisfaction and loyalty. Given this research, it naturally makes sense to ensure that our team is highly motivated. We strive to accomplish this using Daniel Pink’s research that highlights three motivation factors for creative professionals by ensuring each role enjoys Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose. During the Summit we explored what this practically looks like in our unique business and culture with the team.


Building upon culture, we spent time reviewing what already exists- our core values. These may be a future blog post to dive into in greater detail, but they are an important highlight to share from the session. We refreshed these values and streamlined them to the following:

  • Health– we value honesty, integrity, and emotional health in all relationships and for our team members to be physically and mentally healthy
  • Excellence– we value excellence in the quality of our products and services which means they are beautiful and awesome to use while being structurally sound
  • Daily Enthusiasm– we value working with passion and with people who are also working in their “sweet spot” and pleasant to be around
  • Creative Collaboration– we value individuals asking “why” and coming prepared with thoughtful ideas while appreciating that the best outcome is discovered through collaboration with a team
  • Meaningful Work– we value partnering with meaningful companies doing extraordinary work

As you can imagine it was a full two day experience outside of the presentations and discussions with plenty of coffee, food, treats, and even a team building exercise where we helped package 10,000+ servings for Stop Hunger Now.

Our passion is to enrich the lives of others by building awesome apps together. The Winter Summit helped us pause, reflect on this passion, and be inspired to live this out in 2016 for our team and clients.

If this culture and team environment appeals to you, we are currently hiring a Sr Android developer and would love to hear from you; or if you have an app project and are seeking a development partner we are currently scheduling new clients for Q2 in 2016 and would also love to connect.


My First Week at CrossComm: Bobby Skinner

By: Bobby Skinner

I recently joined CrossComm as their Sr. iOS Developer and was asked to share some reflections from my first week. While I have advanced knowledge around object-oriented programming, I possess a basic understanding of subject/object word order, so please keep that in mind as you read this! I’ve been assured that what matters is honesty, so here it goes.

I have over 25 years working in software development, but I’ve only worked at a few companies. Since I don’t change jobs often, I was excited and nervous about all the new things that come with starting a new job; after completing my first day and a half it has been a great experience.


I went through a “typical” day of orientation by learning about CrossComm’s 17 year history, our 3 goals for the year, and 10 year vision. This was helpful, but I must admit as a developer I was eager to start contributing and I was soon granted that wish.  My first task was to investigate Apple’s ResearchKit for one of our client’s iPhone app projects. I love discovering new things, so getting to be one of the first team members to take a deep dive into some of the newest iOS technology was extremely satisfying. As an added bonus, I was also able to contribute to an SDK project. Although my recent experience is focused on iOS projects, I consider myself a senior software engineer and the SDK project leveraged my desire to work with new platforms and have the opportunity to do Android work as well. The ability to stay on the cutting edge like this and produce high quality software was a strong point for me to join CrossComm.

While I love pleasant surprises, I was grateful that I was not surprised by the people. Everyone has been as nice and dedicated as they appeared during the interview process. I am joining a solid core team and I look forward to working with them. It was refreshing to see a commitment to the ethics that were expressed during the interviews. It is often the case that companies talk about values when they are trying to get you to come on board, but the narrative sometimes changes in practice. After attending my first monthly team meeting, there really does seem to be a commitment to being the best we can be, not just maximizing profits. My takeaway from this meeting was that the company really did want us to be the best developers in the world, while at the same time being the best husbands, fathers and friends that we can be too.

Life is all about balance, and CrossComm seems to be very balanced.

Forbes Partners with Minority Technology Firm of the Year, CrossComm With Under 30 App Project

DURHAM, NC- Forbes created the exclusive Under 30 mobile app in-house for its Forbes Under 30 community members while partnering with subject matter experts during the development process. One of these partners was CrossComm, a Durham, N.C. based mobile and web app development studio, who has been recently named the National Minority Technology Firm of the Year by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency.

“Forbes has been working with CrossComm on high priority projects for four years. Their commitment to our long term success is sincere and manifests in their work ethic. We congratulate them on being recognized for their success” said Salah Zalatimo, Head of Mobile Products at Forbes.

Forbes Under 30 App Icon

Forbes unveiled the Under 30 app during today’s Under 30 Conference in Philadelphia, with CrossComm members attending the launch celebration.

The minority technology award, which is given to only one firm across the nation each year, will be presented to CrossComm’s Founder & President, Don Shin, on Oct. 20, 2015, at the 33rd National Minority Enterprise Awards Reception. The ceremony is part of the events surrounding President Obama’s declared National Minority Enterprise Development (MED) week.

For more information on CrossComm, please visit:  www.crosscomm.net

For more information on Forbes and the , please visit:  http://www.forbesmedia.com/



CrossComm is a Durham-based mobile and web app development studio that helps organizations bring their digital aspirations to life. With an in-house team of programmers, CrossComm designs and develops custom iOS, Android, and web apps to keep their clients on the cutting edge of technology.


Forbes Media is a global media, branding and technology company, with a focus on news and information about business, investing, technology, entrepreneurship, leadership and affluent lifestyles. The company publishes Forbes, Forbes Asia, Forbes Europe and ForbesLife magazines as well as Forbes.com and ForbesLife.com. The Forbes brand today reaches more than 75 million people worldwide with its business message each month through its magazines and 37 licensed local editions around the globe, Forbes.com, TV, conferences, research, social and mobile platforms. The Forbes magazine iPad app merges print storytelling with social sharing and the web. Forbes Media’s brand extensions include conferences, real estate, education, financial services, and technology license agreements.

CrossComm Named Minority Technology Firm of the Year By U.S. Department of Commerce

Award to be Presented Oct. 20th During President Obama’s National Minority Enterprise Development Week

Durham, NC – CrossComm, a Durham, N.C.- based mobile and web app development studio, has been named the National Minority Technology Firm of the Year by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency.

The award, which is given to one technology firm across the nation each year, will be presented to CrossComm on Oct. 20, 2015, at the 33rd National Minority Enterprise Awards Reception as part of the events surrounding President Obama’s declared National Minority Enterprise Development (MED) week. CrossComm was nominated by Dan Stafford, project director at the MBDA Business Center Raleigh, a member of MBDA’s business center network.

“CrossComm continues to be a minority business leader in our community since its founding in 1998,” said Stafford. “The company has consistently demonstrated perseverance throughout economic downturns and an ever-changing technology landscape, while staying committed to our Raleigh-Durham area.”

Don Shin founded CrossComm while working toward his undergraduate degree at Duke University in 1998. CrossComm initially assisted clients with custom-built websites. Shin was in the audience when Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone and spearheaded the effort to push CrossComm into the mobile arena.

In 2007, CrossComm created one of the first web apps for the iPhone and had one of the first 500 native iPhone apps worldwide on Day 1 of the iTunes App Store in 2008. Shin developed CrossComm’s first Apple Watch app and stays on the cutting edge of technology in his current role as president and chairman of CrossComm.

“For nearly twenty years, CrossComm has taken a long-term approach to building our business, continually investing in our team, our technology and our processes to serve our clients with excellence and integrity,” Shin said. “It’s extremely satisfying to experience this validation of our approach and to be honored with this award.”


For a complete list of the 2015 National MED Week Winners, please visit: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/minority-business-development-agency-announces-2015-national-med-week-award-winners-300147092.html

For more information on CrossComm, please visit: www.crosscomm.net

For more information on MBBDA, please visit: http://www.theinstitutenc.org/


CrossComm is a Durham-based mobile and web app development studio that helps organizations bring their digital aspirations to life. With an in-house team of programmers, CrossComm designs and develops custom iOS, Android, and web apps to keep their clients on the cutting edge of technology.


The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) is the only Federal agency with a specific direct task of building minority business development. The North Carolina Institute of Minority Economic Development operates the MBDA Business Center Raleigh under a cooperative agreement with MBDA. The Raleigh Center provides comprehensive, customized services to Raleigh area and North Carolina businesses in the areas of access to markets, access to capital, strategic business planning, and global business development.

Its About Time People Realize That the Apple Watch is Not About Time

by Don Shin, President

On the eve of launch, the consensus around the Apple Watch
is that it’s a nice
“want”, but certainly not a “need”
Some even utter the words “Google
Glass” in the same breath
as if to suggest some caution surrounding the hype.
In David Pogue’s humorous Apple
Watch video review
, his colleagues frequently jest in response to Pogue’s
demonstration of features by kidding, “… but does it tell the time?”, echoing
the belief of many that the Apple Watch is still fundamentally a “watch plus”.
I believe that we will look back on this launch as the day when wearable
computing began its inexorable march towards mainstream need. To understand my
confidence, I’d like to posit that the Apple Watch is not about telling the
time – it’s about reading your body.

While we still make phone calls with our smart phones, we
actually spend
most of our time with these devices doing other things besides making phone
. Apple’s intentional decision to call its device an iPhone (vs. a
pocket mac or a PDA – no, not Public Display of Affection, remember the
Personal Digital Assistant?), was by no means an indication of short-sightedness
for its invention – it was a way of introducing their technology in a form
factor and application that people were immediately comfortable with – a trojan
horse if you will for all the other applications that come with having an
always-connected personal computer in your pocket. Likewise, the Apple Watch is
a watch inasmuch as it matches the familiar form factor and application of
keeping time – but I see it as the beginning of a mainstream bridge between the
inner workings of your body and a wealth of new software and services that can
do something useful with that information. The Apple Watch can detect your
heart rate, as well as your fitness-related motion.  Of course, we’ve seen similar applications related to health
and wellness such as fitness bands – and admittedly, the first iteration of
Apple Watch doesn’t go much further than these devices on the market. But its
no coincidence that Apple released its HealthKit technology in preparation for
the Apple Watch, as it not only makes that information from your body more
usable for apps (and your doctor), it also paves the way for the Apple Watch to
become a mainstream medical device.

Could it only be a matter of time before the Apple Watch
reads your blood-sugar level (or works wirelessly with another wearable device
that does)? Could the Apple Watch eventually (again, either on its own or in
conjunction with an ancillary device) detect the onset of a heart attack? What
could software and services do with such information to assist the user in
making one’s healthcare a more proactive rather than reactive matter? While it
is a common refrain to hear that the Apple Watch is an expensive luxury, what
if the cost was trivial compared the medical cost savings incurred through such
proactive healthcare? While the 1st generation iPhone was introduced
with a hefty $599, subsequent generations were eventually subsidized by
cellular carriers, bringing what was once a luxury product to the mainstream.
What if subsequent generations of Apple Watch were ever subsidized by medical
insurance companies because they not only led to better health and wellness but
also saved insurance companies money?

Yes, I just asked a bunch of “what if’s.” that may never
come to pass. But assuming that wearable technology becomes much better at
reading your body, its just a matter of time for software and services to
emerge that might spot out health-related problems before they become full-blown.
Even if insurance companies don’t get involved, health benefits could shift the
perception of the Apple Watch from “nice to have” luxury to “essential health
and wellness device” for many in our society.

Of course, the Apple Watch will still tell the time in the
same way that iPhones are still used for phone calls, though I believe that
telling the time will continue to be a more contextual matter – i.e. instead of
simply telling you the literal time of 4:36pm, the Apple Watch (like the smart
phone before it) will leverage software and services to tell you what that time means: time to pick up
your child from daycare, time to take your medication, its been a while since
you last called your mother – and with the leverage of taking into account your
body and biometrics, the device could tell you its time to stand up, you haven’t
done it in a while. Future iterations of the device might tell you that its
time to eat, your blood sugar level is off kilter – or its time to take a break
from working, your body and brain is saying it could really use one.  Someday, your wearable computer might
tell you that something is wrong with your body- its time to call your doctor
before it gets out of hand. Unlike a smart phone that excels in providing you
with a perspective of the outside world through information feeds and push
notifications, your smart watch will provide you – and the people and services
you trust – with a window into your body. Wearable computing is still in its
infancy – but wait for it. It has the potential to become more personal than
any personal computer before it.