One of the more interesting conferences I attend each year is DEMOmobile, sponsored by IDG and produced by Chris Shipley, who follows mobile computing trends religiously. Only 35 companies are chosen to demo devices and applications. To be among them, vendors must offer products that are new to the market and, more importantly, represent the best new products Shipley and her staff have seen that year.
This year’s event began with an important and astute observation from Shipley, who pointed out that while devices still matter, mobile computing has evolved so much that, thanks to wireless networks, the more important trend is tied to the types of products and services that are optimized specifically for mobile users and take full advantage of wireless connections. This was very evident in some of the early products shown, such as Vazu Seek and Vazu Click, which let a user highlight text snippets from any Web site and, with a single click, send that data to any cell phone.
Also shown that morning was the Skype service for Pocket PC, from Skype Technologies S.A., a free, simple-to-use application for making voice calls using any Wi-Fi–enabled Microsoft Pocket PC handheld device. A note-taking solution from EverNote also caught my eye; it lets users capture, organize and locate all types of notes created over the years, including typed and handwritten notes created on a Tablet PC. It deploys a verydifferent user interface than Microsoft’s OneNote software, and since it can also be delivered as a Web service, it lets users access their notes from any PC.
One of the more important products I saw at the show was among the second day’s offerings. The Iris Motion Control technology, from the Finnish company F-Origin, is a radical new user-interface for PDAs, smartphones and cell phones that allows a person to view the full content of a Web page or map simply by tilting the device up or down or side to side, instead of by scrolling. Also from F-Origin was the HaptiTouch, an actual software keyboard that delivers force feedback. When you touch a soft key, you actually feel the key respond, which makes typing on a soft keyboard much more accurate. This was by far the most unique technology at the event and a real showstopper.
One of the panels at the event, which featured executives from Vodaphone, S.K. Telecom of Korea, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile, discussed the impact of high-speed wireless broadband networks and focused on a couple of key issues. Most interesting was their view that it was inevitable that we will see the marriage of Wi-Fi and 3G networks that will deliver various WAN-based options for truly high-speed wireless data access. All of the panelists stated that they were working on ways to optimize and integrate these technologies into future offerings. They also pointed out that WiMax has the potential of being a very disruptive technology that eventually could rewrite the rules of how wireless networks are designed and utilized.
I found it interesting that the attendees were extremely upbeat about mobile and wireless devices and the fact that they represent one of the fastest growing segments within computing today. It was clear that this is one industry segment that still has a lot of innovation tied to it and, with any luck, mobile and wireless technology will continue to drive mobile enterprise applications and services in the new year. •
Tim Bajarin is president of the Campbell, Calif.–based consultancy Creative Strategies (www.creativestrategies.com).