Startups that Shined at South by Southwest 2012

Joel Anderson  |

Since March of 1987, spring in Austin, TX has meant the South by Southwest Festival. Thrown by the South by Southwest company, the annual convention combines a major music festival, film festival, and a number of new entrepreneurs all in one place for a massive convention and party.

And each year, South by Southwest Interactive provides entrepreneurs and businessmen a chance to showcase their new ideas for start-ups. The festival, which concluded on Tuesday, is a veritable meat market of tech start-ups and new apps.

So what bold new ideas are hit the open market via this year's festival? Here's a quick look at what the early buzz is over.

South by Southwest is the convention that launched trends like Twitter and Foursquare. Among the big trends this year are apps that feature location-based services, locating similar users in any given area and helping them connect. The most buzz appears to be surrounding an app called Highlight, which uses people's Facebook (FB) profiles to find people of similar interests or with friends in common and then helps them connect when they're in the same vicinity. Another similar app is Sonar, which uses information from various social networks to connect people and lets users know who is nearby and how they're connected.

Other apps setting the SXSW crowd abuzz included Samsung unveiling the new Angry Birds Space that will no doubt be destroying worker productivity around the country. CardSpring, though presently unavailable, also offers a bold new approach to tech. CardSpring is an app that allows websites and companies to offer loyalty discounts and coupons that are specifically connected to the credit card number of the consumer. Vibop 2.0 is specifically for Apple's (AAPL) iPhone and iPhone touch. It offers the ability to create video postcards from a mobile phone. Also getting buzz is Zaarly, a service similar to Craigslist that allows someone to offer a specific price for a service or product and see if anyone near by is willing to meet their needs.

With apps galore dominating the discussion at SXSW, one shouldn't be surprised if there are a lot of pedestrians walking around with their noses in their phones for the next few weeks.

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