And The Winner IsSaturday, October 17, 2009
On Tuesday October 6 at CTIA Wireless I.T. & Entertainment 2009, we held our twice-yearly, day-long Wireless University Pre-conference Seminar, now in its 15th year. This was the first time the CTIA show had returned to San Diego since 9/11 (our Wireless University was on 9/10 that year) and what had happened then was mentioned in many a conversation. But this time everything went without a hitch and while I don't know the number of attendees, it looked to be well attended, especially given the state of the world's economy.
Some of you may know that last spring, for the first time, we added an element of competition to our Wireless University program with developers that had made it to the finals giving demonstrations of their mobile applications and the audience selecting the winner. This year we incorporated our MobileApp Challenge into the session that focused on content and added a caveat. We have been saying for many years that we should have smart applications for the wireless Internet, not more browser-based desktop-like applications. To emphasize this point, we only accepted entries that did not require users to invoke a browser, though a browser could be used by the application in the background.
Our four Finalists for this year's event were ShoZu, Snac, Truphone, and Vringo. These applications were demonstrated in the afternoon and our attendees selected the winner. I was pleased with the entries we received; each of them has made our mobile devices more usable in one way or another (though we did have to suffer through some of the more mundane applications that always seem to pop up). It was difficult to choose the final four, but we managed to narrow them down.
Two of the applications provided solutions to similar problems. By providing a different user interface, they enable users to quickly and easily aggregate, view, and access multiple social networking sites and other sites. They both help users multitask by enabling them to see with a glance at their mobile device what is new in each of several categories of their choice and to be able to rapidly move between them.
The first was ShoZu's BlackBerry Client, which is available today. It enables users to send and share images over 50 different social media sites including blogs, news sites, photo storage sites, and most web 2.0 sites. The client displays all of the selected sites so users can see what is new and read and reply to comments in real time across a wide variety of social networking venues. ShoZu's application currently supports the BlackBerry (and very well, I might add).
Next was the other application developed to provide faster and easier access to content. Snac provides an interface that enables users to display Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, Flickr, news, sports, weather, and email. Snac's "dashboard" displays icons for all of the selected services and indicates how many messages are waiting unread for each. Snac claims to support more than 300 different phones from low-cost devices through feature phones and all of the smartphones currently on the market. The application is free, and Snac develops customized versions to enable companies to connect with their mobile consumers on a more frequent basis.
A totally different type of application was demonstrated by Truphone. Truphone 2.0 was created for the iPod Touch with Wi-Fi. This application turns the iPod Touch into a mobile phone when it is in range and connected to a Wi-Fi access point (the iPod Touch was not designed to be a phone). On top of simple voice communications, Truphone 2.0 offers low-cost calling and instant messaging capabilities. This version of the product has enhanced features for more communications and capabilities, and better account management.
The last presenter was Vringo with its version 2.0 enhanced ringtone service. Vringo 2.0 goes far beyond typical ringtone services by enabling customers to create their own video ringtones or modify Vringo's video ringtones and send them along with their call. Recipients hear and see the sender's ringtone video, not the one they preprogrammed into their phone. It is fun and easy to build video ringtones for your own phone or to send along with your call.
Now on to the winner, who won a ride in an aerobatics airplane piloted by Rory Moore who is President of CommNexus San Diego, a non-profit industry association. Rory is one of the top-ranked aerobatic pilots in the world. Once feet are firmly planted back on the ground, the company and its application will be entered in our yearly program for our Choice Awards that are presented at our annual Wireless Dinner the first night of CTIA Wireless in Las Vegas. The company will receive three invitations to this exclusive invitation-only dinner, and since 2010 will be our 20th anniversary, it should be a very special event.
Congratulations to all of the Finalists, and especially to Snac, Inc., the 2009 MobileApp Challenge Winner.