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GadgetThere was a short overnight in Telluride with some friends and then on to San Diego for DEMOfall. Demo continues to be my favorite conference — the semi-annual event attracted nearly 600 attendees. The Demo conference allows entrepreneurs to show off new gadgets, software, hardware and business ideas and enables the press, analysts, investors, and technology enthusiasts to assess what they see. Companies like IBM scout for potential acquisitions. The product introductions that take place reveal key technology trends over the coming 12 to 18 months. This year there were 70 companies showing their latest and greatest — each getting six minutes on stage to tell their story.
Chris Shipley, executive producer of Demo and Chairman and CEO of Guidewire Group, screens the companies and introduces them to the audience.  After the main tent sessions the attendees get to visit with the companies in the “Demo Tent”.
There were some key trends that were reinforced at DEMO again this year. Many companies in some way talked about mobile. Most companies either provide a web service or use web services as their platform. The term “cloud” is gaining traction in their vocabulary. Most companies were media related in some way or provided or used social networking. None of these things are new, by any means, but DEMO confirmed their strategic importance and demonstrated significant implementations. I don’t think any of them have cracked the code so to speak but there were many that had exciting visions and demos. There were two changes in direction I noticed compared to last year. First is that nearly everybody at the conference had an iPhone. Secondly, most of the companies either offer their software for the Mac or are planning to.
There isn’t time to visit all of companies so I try to be selective — I visited 25 of the companies this time. Some of the ones I found interesting follow. They are in no particular order.
Local Dirt says they want to be “Everyone’s place to buy, sell, and find local food”. They have created an e-commerce platform to enable grocery stores or consumer groups to buy from local farmers and farmer markets. Locally grown food is the fastest growing segment of the food business and Local Dirt got a lot of interest.
CallSpark! aims to replace the phone icon in your iPhone with their. The enhancement is that if you want to call Fedex or Marriott or Hertz, CallSpark! finds the number for you even though it is not in your iPhone contact list. Basically, CallSpark! virtually expands your contact list to find people or businesses. I look forward to trying it out when it is on the App Store.
DOTGO enables you to use your mobile phone to quickly, easily, and reliably access any web site — to read the news, check a train schedule, or track a package by simply sending a text message.  For example you could send a text to DOTCOM (368266) and put Coca Cola in the body of the message. DOTGO would have a marketing agreement with Coca Cola that would enable them to respond with information to you such as a link to go to a special offer.
Keen Systems has a really slick commerce program to automate the small printers of the world. Every deal with a local printer? The one is this area does everything manually — preferably by phone but also fax. No email! Keen takes a broad view of the processes involved and has a comprehensive solution to streamline the process of getting things printed.
Fusebox is a collaborative system that does it all. Instant messaging, annotating or tagging movies with friends, and have online meetings. Take a look.
Gogrok is in this space too. They say they are going to make on-line collaboration easier and more interactive so that people can understand each other completely via the Internet. I found it interesting but suspect it will have trouble getting traction.
Intelius has a “People Search” which they claim is a great way to find and reconnect with family, old friends, relatives — just about anyone! People Search reports include phone numbers, address history, ages, birth dates, household members, home value, income and more. They promoted it as a date check. Frightening!
Cazoodle is a specialized search engine for buying things. It not only finds things but also organizes the various features and options so you can make a good choice and get a good price
Digsby integrates instant messaging, email, and social networks into one easy to use application. That is their goal. I did not find very intuitive but it was defintely clever. The idea is to make it easy to write something and place it as a tweet and a Facebook post in a few mouse clicks.
Radioweave says they are the “second century of radio” and they have a system that creates a custom broadcasting “channel”. They say that In traditional radio, you tune in to a single channel until you are bored and then you change channels.
This is just a sample. They were all interesting. Statistically, of the seventy companies at Demo probably a half-dozen will survive. Some will get purchased and become a feature in another company’s offering. Some will run out of money and move on to another idea. Entrepreneurs never stop.