Wireless Auto Integration
Since I am a automobile fan, I decided to go to the local Auto Show in San Francisco. There were the hybrids, the econoboxes, exotics, and more. I’m sure the show would be more exciting with prototypes and new product introductions that occur in Detroit, Frankfurt or Los Angeles, thus is was a rather calm almost bland show. While lots of cars were sporting Bluetooth as well as iPod integration.
Other wireless technologies which are becoming more prevalent are keyless entry and ignition are starting to take off. BMW and Mercedes Benz among others allow the driver *NOT* to fumble with their keys to hit the remote and simply within the proximity of the vehicle, open the door or trunk.
Perhaps the things more closely related to wireless was the fact that Corporate Representatives from Mercedes and Nissan, just to name a few, were sporting Tablet PCs with WiFi connectivity. The ultra thin and svelte NEC Versa LitePad Tablet PC (0.6″ thick!) was being used to take down customer information and survey data to match sales prospects to vehicles. Pretty good use of technology if you ask me. No messy customer cards to fill out, no duplicate data entry to be preformed, and customer satisfaction feels high. Shortening the sales cycle from emotional interest to test drive to driving off the lot if definitely quicker.
As I am in the market for a new car, I decided to try out the service. After getting the my mailing address and cars of interest, within two days, a local dealer emailed me to schedule an appointment for a test drive. Within a week, a full color brochure was in my mailbox with a Thank You letter. In an age where we complain about Customer Service, I was quite impressed!
CNET reported the other day about engineers working on “Build-it-yourself cell phones.” I think this is a great idea. As mentioned in the article, just like the advent of the Apple II, you need some inspiration. One day, perhaps in the not too distant future, you can buy a kit and build your own phone, with the shape, color, look-and-feel, that you always wanted, supported by standardized internals might not be so far away.
While I think these handsets are quite a few years away from becoming viable on a larger scale, I believe it’s significant that the internal components are inexpensive, and there are a lot of engineers willing to put in the elbow grease. While I don’t think Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, Sony-Ericsson, or others should worry, perhaps in a few years, reliable and interesting designs will start popping up.The problem is that unlike the days of the Apple II, mobile phones are *already* a commodity, they are (in some cases) free, and the plans are quite affordable (thanks to pre-paid cards). Also, the devices already come in a multitude of sizes, colors, shapes, and functionality. Danger is still around and people are using their device. Research In Motion is also a relative new comer to the device market as well. And just wait until the factories in China start to really churn out devices outside its own country — Ningbo Bird, Dopod, Datang Telecom just to name a few. These are whom the big brands should be concerned about. But who knows, innovative design might be the ultimate outcome from tinkering around.
V is for luxury
First Vertu, the luxury the handset. Out of reach to even the wealthy, you need to be part of the stratosphere to be able to afford one. Precious stone-encrusted keypads, real gold metal cases, super! But years after the launch of the Vertu, in partnership with Nokia; MVNOs are all the rage — enter Voce. V is for luxury and part of the benefits package is getting a new phone every 4 months. At $500/month, you can talk all you want. Curious — I’m wondering if you are paying for the device to keep up your sheik and hip persona, instead of constantly being on the phone.
But not to fear! If you are shopping for the ultimate all you can talk voice plan, it looks like Voce is the provider for you. Doing some simple calculations, if you were to spend a month talking nonstop, that adds up to about 43,200 minutes.
Taking into consideration night and weekend minutes and the maximum talk plan from Sprint and Cingular, you can see how much you can save switching to Voce! The Sprint monthly bill would be about $1,830, Cingular, nearly $3,000. To be more realistic though, with both Sprint and Cingular, you would have to talk more than roughly 25,000 minutes a month to cross the threshold of making Voce a contender. Personally, I do talk on my mobile quite a bit, and my highest minutes per month has only reached around 4000 minutes. I can’t even imagine 25,000! Perhaps if you were in sales or telemarketing, it would start to approach that number, but I like taking breaks for food, sleep, personal grooming and even the bathroom!At that rate, I think I would rather convince all of my friends to either:
- Join the same mobile phone network; there are so many unlimited mobile to mobile plans
- Use Free VoIP such as Skype or GoogleTalk; still would need a mobile client for your phone, then signing up for an Unlimited Data Plan
Maybe my readers can tell me what your highest monthly minutes has been to see if we could even come close to 25,000!
Mobile Technology 2005 redux
The event was a huge success with lots of positive talk about mobile technology. Most were upbeat about infrastructure and services emerging as a result of mobile and wireless being in the spotlight. There were quite a few startups at the event to show their stuff. Part of the format was to give each companies, 6 minutes of stage time to demo their product or service. Here are some notable companies:
Avvenu is a free service that lets business users and consumers securely access their office and home computers directly from their web-enabled mobile device or laptop computer. In addition to accessing their own content, Avvenu users can quickly and securely share access to their content with colleagues, friends and family. Avvenu users can securely access important documents when traveling, share pictures while still on vacation or distribute large files to colleagues â€“ in seconds.They won the Best of Mobile Technology Award at the event. I like this service, but wondering how the shake out with out MeToo plays will follow their trend.
Lumitrend offers the first complete online backup solution for the cell phone, ensuring your data is never lost and allows unlimited customization without storage space limitations or requiring a plug-in to sync. The company has three products, CellBackup, RingVault, and cellSynx is a full suite to support your most personal and value gadget–your mobile phone.Personally, being able to backup your phone’s content will become more and more important as we further our reliance on mobile devices to power our lifestyle.
mophone allows you to find, share and manage all your mobile stuff. Users can upload and store all their photos, ringtones and games to their personal “locker” and then access it on their mobile phone. It also lets you share the latest, hot mobile content by connecting with your friends, creating private groups or by meeting other mobile users from around the world on the mophone network.We’ll have to see whether Avvenu or mophone has a better business model. I’m also wondering what the revenue share looks like between mophone and the carrier–perhaps a hybrid on the “Walled Garden” model.
scanR helps you capture and share documents and whiteboards. It uses advanced imaging technologies to convert pictures into readable PDF files and faxes. Good camera phones can take decent photos of babies, pets and sunsets, but are not designed for scanning. scanR is an innovative service that turns your camera phone into a scanner, copier and fax.I saw scanR before at another mobile event. Expanding beyond faxing with their whiteboard offering, I’m hoping this is one of the “ground-swell” services that will enable MMS to be cheaper. I think picture sharing might be more popular than business document scanning, but nonetheless I do like the possiblities!
Transforming Windows XP based PCs and laptops into personal on-the-go digital TVs, the Slingboxâ„¢ allows individuals anywhere-anytime access to their own living room television experience with no additional monthly service fees. Enabling consumers to watch their cable, satellite, or digital video recorder (DVR) programming from wherever they are, the Slingbox turns any Internet-connected laptop or desktop PC into a personal TV.I heard about the Slingbox a little while ago. Now I’m hearing ads on the radio and it’s made headlines everywhere. The only negative thing now is when i travel, will I clog up the hotel or Internet cafes net connection trying to catch up on reality TV, Sports games, and other shows I aleady don’t have time to watch! I can’t wait for the Slingplayer so I don’t have to potentially carry the Slingbox around. I already don’t have room in my luggage with all the extra mobile devices and extra laptop I carry to conferences and tradeshows!