We’ve passed the halfway point of Demo 07. Below are my real-time notes and initial impressions of the products and services revealed today. This session is heavy on mobile devices and applications.
Allows diverse devices to interoperate and communicate effectively with each other. Showed a slide show application operating a mobile device that was simultaneously controlling the same slide show on 6 different devices that had the DART software but not the slideshow app installed. At the end of the demo, they made pigs fly. No, really, they did!
My Take: Looks pretty powerful, but this is outside my area of expertise.
Simplifies connections to WiFi networks. Tiny application (50k) that installs on many devices. Register devices with their web site. Tell it the right username and password for any hotspot accounts you may have. Especially useful for WiFi phones, it seems.
My Take: This seems to me to be a bet on whether WiFi Hotspots are the wave of a future or merely a stop on the way to other wireless broadband solutions.
Claims to aggregate all WiFi networks into one “free global wireless community.” Can use your wireless connection to allow nearby users to access selected files and engage in various social network activities.
My Take: Is it a localized social network tool or is it a WiFi access utility? Seems like it is really more of the former, despite the way they initially frame themselves. If you’re interested in hyperlocal social networking, this could be worth another look.
Softphone application. They touted the quality, but it seemed like there were some hiccups and echos. I’m not sure if this had to do with the a/v dynamics in the room or the software itself, though it seemed like the software. Connects to SIP phones. They call it Skype for the enterprise.
My Take: They extend the capability of SIP phones, though I know in the case of my own provider for our office, we already have many of those through them. Not sure I fully understand the value prop here.
Project Evros is what they call it. An enterprise solution that empowers IT departments to control their fleet of laptops everywhere. Hardware solution that includes GPS, linux, battery, and more. It is literally the key to the laptop (without it installed, the laptop won’t run). Designed to provide better security for laptops and to enable IT folks to take remote control of any laptop. Works even if the laptop is off. Data on laptop is encrypted and encryption key is on the card.
My Take: This is an area that I have spent some time looking at and was once even in discussions about a startup in this arena (it never got off the ground). This product is very impressive and given the concerns of many companies about their laptop fleets, I expect this has real potential. Price point is the major question, but I suspect many companies would pay a good price for this.
They sell it as a better battery. Fast charge of 80% in 30 minutes. Claims the battery lasts longer and doesn’t experience fade as quickly as most batteries, which they say start to fade within 4-6 months (I agree with that based on my own anecdotal experience). They say their battery will not fade during the 3 year lifespan of the typical laptop.
My Take: They are batteries so it is hard to judge without real world experience. If their claims are accurate it could be useful.
Allows voice mails to be sent to mobile phones. The messages can be mixed with music. Can do the same with your voice mail answering message. Done on the web site and can record messages using a phone or microphone on the computer.
My Take: Maybe I’m just not hip enough to get it, but seems to me music mixed with voice messages isn’t that exciting. It’s a lot of work. Why not just leave a message the normal way? Heck, you can play music in the background if you want and get a similar effect. I guess there’s a little more value in creating an interesting answering message, but does that really make a business?
DAVE = Digital Audio Video Experience. A wireless mobile storage solution. Can be accessed by a mobile phone or other devices. Available this summer. The demo had technical difficulties so they had to describe what it could do, but couldn’t show it. They handled the flop as well as could be expected, though.
My Take: Expanding the storage capability of mobile devices will be very powerful. Presumably they will have the kinks worked out before they release it.
If your car is stolen and it has this installed, it will page your cell phone and you can track online where the car is and how fast it is going. It also can track teen drivers to see where they are and what they are doing. It can also be used to control various car functions, including heating, cooling, locks, etc. Being used by car dealers and fleet managers. Claims average consumers can install within 20 minutes.
My Take: Pretty impressive if it works as billed. Sort of a next generation of the well-known Lojack device but that also adds value when your car isn’t being stolen.
Free voice and text messaging. Targeted at groups like college students, sports teams, and volunteer organizations that need “real-time solution interaction.” Can also be used by businesses to update customers who opt-in. For instance, frequent patrons of a particular bar could receive messages about spur of the moment specials being offered that evening.
My Take: I can see the value in communicating with groups in real-time. This app seems simple enough, but I can’t speak to how it compares to the competition. This is a potentially crowded space to be in and it may be tough to break out.
Allows users to create a customized mobile portal for their individual cell phones. Can integrate whatever feeds or other data the user wants. Look can be customized for the individual cell phone’s capabilities. They are apparently beginning to partner with companies to create these portals so users don’t have to do it themselves.
My Take: The partnering route will be critical as I just don’t see that many users going through the effort to create customized cell phone portals. I think the vast majority are likely to work with whatever their provider gives them. Are there enough power users and partners to sustain this sort of company?
Classified advertising via mobile phone. Users can take photos, type in descriptions, and upload the classified ad.
My Take: OK, they make it easier to create the ad, but what about the audience to buy the items? Newspapers work because people read them. eBay works because people visit the web site. How will iqzone build an audienc
e for their ads?
Partners can create applications that combine data from multiple content sources. Examples shown included booking a restaurant reservation through OpenTable and finding after-dinner entertainment through another service. It also showed a simple way to access flight information.
My Take: The apps shown looked considerably easier than using a mobile browser to access the same features and sites. It would seem success would depend on partner adoption and promotion.
A video ringtone sharing community. Permits video ringtones to be selected by the caller, not the recipient like traditional ringtones. Users can take their own clips to create Vringos.
My Take: Seems to have potential. Assuming that groups of friends are all required to have the application to see the Vringos, however, it will be heavily dependent on group adoption dynamics — or adoption my major carriers directly.
They report that only 10 million of the 230 million mobile phones in the US have email functionality. This service allows you to access email on other phones. They claim to be 100% carrier and handset agnostic. Uses SMS to transmit info. Can customize which messages get passed along to your cell phone and when.
My Take: Has potential. The examples were all short messages, however, and I would want to see what happens when a longer email is received since SMS doesn’t handle long text well.