DemoMobile 2004 brought a laser focus to the area of mobile computing this week in La Jolla (near San Diego and pronounced La Hoya, in case you are not familiar with it) . As I mentioned in DemoMobile – part 1, there have been skeptics over the years about mobile computing. Some have wondered whether the wireless Web is for real while others wondered if the operators would get their act together and offer some valuable services beyond voice. DemoMoblie brought together nearly forty products and services poised to have a positive impact in the mobile arena in the year to come. The demonstrators were supplemented by speakers and panelists from numerous companies who shared their point of view. There were signs of the vision coming true.
Pete Kelly from Opera Software showed everybody he could how the Opera browser offered dazzling performance and fidelity on the Sony Ericsson P900. Verizon, Vodaphone, Sprint and SK (Korea) talked about their plans to roll out advanced high speed networks to support mobile devices of all kinds. Our Pictures, Inc. showed solutions to send pictures from a cell phone to your mom’s TV set — literally. Mirra demonstrated a home server that automatically backsup, synchronizes, and versions all the PC’s in your home LAN. Aliph showed Jawbone, a headset that enables you to have a clear conversation from your mobile phone even if you are driving a car with the window down or standing next to somebody ten feet away who is using a weed whacker. Handmark showed a suite of applications that keeps your mobile phone up to date with news, weather, sports, stocks, and movie reviews. Yahoo, AOL, American Greetings, and Nokia Ventures discussed plans to make their content offerings relevant for mobile users. And on and on. It was a very exciting couple of days with technology executives, venture investors, journalists and analysts who had converged to preview, review, and discuss the many new ideas. As usual, the best part of the conference was the opportunity to network with many old and new friends.
Chris Shipley, executive producer for DemoMobile, kicked off the conference with a keynote talk about her view of where things are and where they are headed. This was followed by a number of talks, panels, and of course demos.
I enjoyed moderating two of the panels. There were a lot of comments from panelists about how important the operators/carriers are — at times I got the feeling it was the operators/carriers who are the customer of the mobile industry. The question I wish I had asked the final panel was about who the real customer is and what they want. If you believe that eventually you and I and our friends, family and colleagues around the world will prevail and get what we want then it is clear as a bell to me what that will be. We (the real customers) want all the content and applications to be accessible in any standards-compliant browser, for standards-compliant browsers to work on any phone, and for any phone to work with any network operator. This is what open Internet standards are all about. The glass is half full, not half empty. The grass roots will prevail in the end.
The DemoMobile weblog has a lot of comments from DemoMobile attendees. You may also want to visit conferenza.com where veteran writer extraordinaire Shel Israel made a full report. If you drop Shel a note I suspect he would be willing to send you a copy.