Focus on Content
Since there is an absolute glut of CMSes out there, Contentful will have a hard time gaining traction, and for that alone it deserves praise. Even for systems that have been around for over a decade, and that have proven business models, it's often hard to get noticed as a viable CMS option.
Contentful calls itself the CMS for the app economy, a system where content is managed in one place and is published to many different platforms, including the Web and mobile apps. Most CMSes were built to publish to the Web, and as such, they are slaves to the HTML presentation layer, something Contentful seems to want to distance itself from.
Sascha Konietzke, Contentful CEO, had helped previously build a similar system called StorageRoom, but after lining up some funding and a crew of advisers, his team decided to rebuild StorageRoom with a new architecture. Thus we now have Contentful, a way to line up structured content in one place so that it could be published anywhere.
Cloud + API Based
Becuase the Contenful team was tired of managing mobile app content in an outdated way, the Contentful Content Delivery API was born, and this is how the system can publish to any platform. Content is delivered as JSON data, and images, videos and other media is delivered as files.
Additionally, the API is distributed via a content delivery network for improved availability and reduced latency, a big benefit for mobile apps especially. Contentful is clearly focused on managing content for mobile apps, but the model could be used for other kinds of screens as well. We're thinking here of things like smart cars or even Google Glass, perhaps.
For now, Contentful is allowing people to sign up to be invited to its beta, and it will be free to try out. Tell us in the comments if you think this kind of delivery model is the future of mobile apps