I was privileged to recently be a part of Intel's Web 2.0 CSD. CSDs are Corporate Strategic Discussions Intel has at usually the very highest executive level. This in fact had most of the executives there, even prestigious past CEO-alums such as Andy Grove and Craig Barrett. Given my past experience at Mashup Camp and some proof of concept applications I had been working on, I was given the opportunity to demonstrate some of our location aware technologies integrated into web-based applications we are developing.
Tim O'Reilly opened the discussion with his views on what is beyond Web 2.0. As some of you might know, Tim coined the phrase "Web 2.0" and owns O'Reilly publishing. Who doesn't have an O'Reilly book with a broken spine? His talk led perfectly into our message which was that data and interfaces are everything. If you don't own the data (NAVTEK owns data), you should at least own the interfaces (Google Maps).
We at Intel are interested in delivering interfaces for mobile developers to take advantage of our platforms' best in class capabilities. I can't get into the details yet of what we are developing, but imagine the possibilities for application creativity when every platform (notebook, UMPC, desktop) contains precise location information outdoors AND indoors.
This could mean an end to always typing in your zipcode for movie times and locations, setting up Konfabulator weather widgets or telling Local search engines where you are. Walking through a mall, you could get e-coupons automatically appear on your mobile devices from stores you are within or walking past. See a book in Barnes and Noble? What do people online have to say about it? Scan the barcode and look at Amazon reviews or other books that may be like it. What about taking a location-aware device to the golf course? It wouldn't be difficult for me to create a simple mashup to replace those expensive GPS golf carts. Heck, I could start a business delivering these services, huh?
It sounds nice, who wouldn't want a device like that? I think we're very close but there are a few minor details that are huge barriers for adoption:
- Price. No one is going to buy a $1000 UMPC.
- Always Connected price. The attractiveness of mobile devices is the fact that you can take your computing with you. All of the above scenarios require internet connectivity. If when you purchase a UMPC or notebook, you are expected to pay an addition $40/month on internet connectivity when you are already paying $40 on high-speed internet at the house and $40 on your phone, forget it. I don't know anyone making a salary of $100K or less that has internet connectivity on their phone that isn't expensing it through work. Share the cost of connectivity across all devices. I'll pay $60/mo. for high-speed internet across all my devices, but not on each successive devices. How many can I use simultaneously anyways?
- UI. It must be easy, but functional. A computer without a keyboard isn't functional today. Until speech recognition reaches the Star Trek level, we need some form of a keyboard.
- Screen contrast and battery life. A device must be able to be used for 8 hours straight, no exceptions. A device must be readable in direct sunlight, again no exceptions.
You build the device and I'll build the applications, deal? Don't forget that you cannot screw me over on the connectivity costs.