Anyone feeling blue about the economic downturn or at odds over political battles involving healthcare reform and financial stimulus would have done well to attend Mobilize 09 at San Francisco’s Mission Bay Conference Center Thursday, as dozens of presenting speakers/companies and hundreds of attendees embraced there a future that will be on-the-go and location aware, serving up near-instantaneous communications and connectivity over ever-faster, increasingly stable wireless networks.
And to hear the faithful tell it, it’s a future with unlimited profit-potential for network operators and developers alike, with expanding features and services coming at ever lower costs for consumers.
GigaOM Network, the San Francisco-based technology analysts and information clearing house, served up an impressive roster of some of the most forward-thinking people in mobile technology, with executives from established companies such as Intel, Qualcomm, Motorola, Google and Microsoft joining game-changing players from smaller concerns such as iSkoot, Mozes, Handango and Getfugu (among many others) to describe the evolution of information technology – driven by the way people live and work with the mobile internet – to produce new opportunities for innovation and new models for generating revenue.
The day’s program was deep and wide, covering topics as disparate as monetizing mobile apps, to the effects of ethnographic studies on product design, to the implications of the availability of 1Gbps Ultraband connectivity – but a few major themes informed the larger message implicit in the conference agenda: the Internet, once the mysterious province of something embedded in the pixels of a desktop CRT, wants to be untethered; and people increasingly want to access its information and its tools with devices they can put in their pocket.
Thus Motorola chose the event to announce a new mobile phone based on Google’s Android operating system – the Cliq – that will feature the company’s take on harnessing all the wild horses of social networking and instant messaging into on automagical homescreen, called MotoBlur.
A major panel discussion featured commentary by the CEO of INQ Mobile, makers of award winning phones designed around applications such as Skype and Facebook.
The founder of MIT’s NextLab talked about launching mobile ventures for the Next Billion Consumers.
The city where one of the world’s major telecommunications networks (AT&T) famously cannot seem to keep a cell phone connection live for more than a few minutes, and daily fields rants and complaints about its unreliable data network, is perhaps an ironic venue for a conference so sure about the bright and profitable future of mobile communications.
And there are many unanswered questions about how the infrastructure investments will be funded that will be necessary to support this bright future, and whether there’s as much profit in it as the promoters envison also remains to be seen.
But the future has to start somewhere and Mobilize 09 seems to have brought together a lot of the people and companies one can expect to be there when it arrives.