EVO Woos Me Into Early Adoption

Unlike Angelina Jolie, it takes me awhile to decide to adopt something…and it’s no easy task for me to make a commitment to the first generation of anything. However, I did just that. I am the proud owner of a new HTC EVO. Yep, it’s true. I got up early stood in line, endured the slow computers at my Sprint store, plunked down my $299 (accepting the hassle of the mail-in rebate) and walked out on the cutting edge of mobile…at least until Monday afternoon when Steve Jobs rolled out iPhone 4.

Why the EVO? Well, in fact, my experience with the HTC Incredible, which I reviewed here a view weeks back, paved the way for my decision. Rather than list all of the features that this Android device offers, I’ll just highlight those that were more appealing about the EVO.

First, size was a consideration for me…go ahead, I’ll wait patiently while you make the compulsory “size matters” jokes…done?..OK. As I noted, the Incredible was just a bit too streamlined for me and the EVO is substantially larger in over all size to accommodate the 4.3″ screen. I like the feel of this phone in my rather long hands. Though it might be just a bit too big, I can deal with that in light of the larger screen. And while the display as Breon Nagy points out, isn’t quite as crisp as the smaller device, it’s still light years ahead of my coal-fired Treo 755p.

Another plus for the EVO is the front facing camera. With a Qik app and a Skype app on the way, I like the ability to do some video conferencing wherever I am. I know, Mr. Jobs rolled out Facetime for the iPhone 4 just days after the EVO launch. But that’s still on the less than stellar AT&T network. By the way, the 8 megapixel rear-facing camera still comes in higher than Apple’s 5 megapixel version.

What really sealed the deal for me was much more simple than all of this combined-Sprint service. As I mentioned more than once, I am a long-time Sprint customer and the pricing made it easy for me to add the EVO to my other three phones. Even with some poor past history and the extra $10.00 a month for the increased data, it was much cheaper to stay rather than jump to Verizon..even with there superior (or so people say)  network. Add to that the kick-butt service I got from Evan (props) at the Sprint store in Apple Valley on past upgrades and the pending launch of 4G here in the Twin Cities and hopping on the train to EVO-land was a no-brainer.

Though I never suspected I would be “one of those guys” who waited in line for the first gadget (in my daughter’s words, “nerd alert”) I had a great time on launch day. Check out the video of the morning’s events below. And look for the top of this early-adopters head at the next conference as I tweet, surf and snap on my state-of-the-art (for now) smartphone.

Now, That’s Incredible Mobile

Some time back I shared that I would be leaping from my steam driven and coal fired Palm Treo to the then brand spanking new Palm Pre. I was met with a price plan that prohibited me from making that commitment. Thank God! I was thankfully spared from investing in what my friend Lisa Foote now calls “a dead phone walking.”

Since that time I have been patiently waiting for a phone that fulfilled my mobile needs. One that offered all the utility I seek (fast web, good service, access to apps, plenty of power) while still having a look and feel that didn’t say, “I’m sensible..not sexy.” I have a Volvo wagon that handles that just fine, thanks.

Last week the fine folks at Verizon offered me a chance to take the HTC Incredible, officially labeled the Droid Incredible, for a spin. The Incredible is on my short list of phones to which to commit, along with the iPhone (on anything but AT&T), or the HTC EVO and I was anxious to put the phone and it’s Android platform through it’s paces.

Disclaimer: This won’t be an overly “techie” review. Those who develop and program for the smartphone market are far more qualified to do that. In fact, Breon Nagy does a stellar job in his latest review. Mine will be from a more hands on “do all the bells and whistles really work for me” viewpoint. Yes, there will be a bit of spec verbiage, but I’ll try and answer the “Yeah, but what does that mean.” questions. Should you crave a little geek speak, you can see the full specs here.

Let’s get started. When unboxing this phone I distinctly heard a distant chorus of angels. Now hold up…this isn’t an all sunshine and rainbows review…there are some things that bother me about this phone, but Verizon’s Incredible delivers a damn good looking phone, so I was visually impressed right away. It’s a look and feel is sleek and sexy, something the flagship Droid, with it’s hard edges and multi-layer design, failed to deliver. The front slick black design with only a small, well recessed track-ball and the slightly rounded edges of the device feel good in the hand. The “topographical” back puzzles me a bit but it’s flat black finish does make it easier to hold on to what looks as slippery as a buttered newt.

I’m not thrilled by the narrowness of the phone in my rather long hands, nor am I crazy about how the camera lens of the hefty 8 megapixel camera protrudes so much, but the features and benefits of both make it easy to get past this. My guess is that a protective case will alleviate both issues should you decide to use one.

The Incredible is currently “state of the art” in the Android arena. Running on Android 2.1 (the latest version) and offering 3G connectivity this bad boy is plenty powerful. Upon turning the phone on with the top mounted power button the 3.7 inch screen jumped to life. It’s clear, colorful and easy to read. I even found it so in direct sunlight.

The phone offers good-looking wallpaper choices including “Live” wallpaper. The moving colorful wallpaper would have kept me entertained for hours back in the partying’ days of college. Kinda like your own little Who concert light show. The ability to customize the desktop to your liking is available in seven different screens. These screens are part of the Sense user interface and allow you to divide up the content the way you want as well as offering established themes (Travel, Social, etc.) with a host of available widgets.

Being a big fan of a real keyboard I was concerned about adapting to the virtual keyboard the Incredible sports. I was pleasantly surprised. The “keys” are quite large in landscape but even in portrait view, I had little to complain about. The web browsing and access was lightning quick (relatively speaking) thanks to the Snapdragon processor.

I was able to take advantage of some of those apps and widgets I mentioned during the short time I had the phone. I navigated to a few destinations with the turn by turn directions offered as part of Android Google maps app and tried a host of Twitter apps (ultimately settling on HootSuite Lite). I was looking forward to using the the FM radio app, which requires you to plug in earbuds for an antenna. In a word, the FM radio blows. Reception was poor even with strong city-grade signals. Consumers always name the FM tuner as a feature they want included in their MP3 device. It’s too bad this doesn’t deliver more than the look of FM and not the sound.

My MP3 library sounded fine and allowed me the appropriate amount of crankage for individual tracks. The hefty amount of on-board memory and the SD card slot offers plenty of room for even the heftiest of libraries. App-wise, I found easy access to most of what I was looking for in the Marketplace and the phone offered no hiccups or problems as I added and deleted applications.

Of note is that third party applications available for the phone will require that SD card to run them. The card easily plugs into the side of the phone under that back cover and Verizon will give you a free 2GB card if you purchase an Incredible before May 31st. This is a memory management thing that I’m sure will be fixed in later versions. But for now the extra space you get with the card doesn’t hurt!

The camera quality is a real standout for the phone…OK, it kicks ass. The 8 megapixel camera delivered great photos and video recording. My iPhone lovin’, 3 megapixel camera slave colleagues were quite impressed. The dual LED flash is a nice addition for indoor shooting though it can leave subjects a bit washed out if you’re too close.

With a device such as this battery life is always a concern. Though I gave the Incredible quite a work out, I didn’t find myself cursing a low battery. I spent the entire day live blogging and Tweeting from the Minnesota High Tech Association conference and had no issues. I used up about 3/4 of the battery but the ability to charge the phone via it’s USB cable (and included wall adapter) made it easy to get a little bump when needed.

A quick note about coverage area. Being one who is currently a free agent when it comes to cell service (I’m out of contract on all three of the phones in my account) I was anxious to get a taste of the Verizon network. While I never dropped a call, the “one bar” of service I get at my home south of Minneapolis is not better than my Sprint coverage. In downtown Minneapolis, I wallowed in four screaming bars and 3G…but I don’t live there. Kind of disappointing…but not a deal-breaker.

Why? Because this phone is all that and a bag of chips. I think the whole quest of the “iPhone killer” is pointless (though incredibly flattering to Mr. Jobs and company) but you would have to consider the Incredible on par with it. Maybe it’s the iPhone “wounder”.  The phone delivers ease of use, plenty of power, all the apps you’ll really need and access to a rabid Android community. That community is so into the platform they will gladly step out and help any “noob” who needs some assistance.

Pre-orders are being taken now online and the phone itself hits stores on April 29th. The cost is set at $199.00 including a 2-year commitment and after an instant rebate. You’ll need the voice and text plan data plan as well as the data plan to use the Incredible. If you go with an individual plan, you’ can get into this bad boy for about $80 a month.

(Photo courtesy of Pixar and Phandroid)

Another Social Media Reality Check

Last year about this time I was preparing to lead a discussion at the newly founded UnSummit in Minneapolis. To inspire conversation about the realities of social media and it’s use I decided to send a brief survey to my social community. No, not the social media “crowd” I run with as part of RemainComm and other projects in which I’m involved. I mean my social circle. Those “real” people that live their lives much more off-line than on.

As the UnSummit became a year old and another event took shape this year, it seemed to make sense to revisit the topic. 2009, thanks to media coverage, saw the meteoric rise of Twitter and the domination of Facebook it seemed like a good idea to see if the everyday Joe had changed their habits. So, with a few modifications, I dutifully sent off the survey to the same group of friends, neighbors and acquaintances. I got darn near the same number of respondents (26 vs 27 last year) from which to crunch and analyze data. As I said last year. I’m sure my researcher friends could poke all sorts of holes in the methodology. The data should not to be construed as scientific. It isn’t meant to be. It is simply a vehicle to use to fuel discussion and I thought you might find it interesting. I’ll touch on some highlights here, but you can also download a PDF.

As I said, the age of my respondents was almost identical as last year with nearly 90% falling between 35 and 54 years old. Yep, still my peeps. There was also slight difference in computer access with a home some home computers being replaced by a laptop form year to year.

A more meaty graph shows the awareness and use of the many social media tools out there.

Note from year to year the increase in use of sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. Also note that while Twitter increases in awareness, it’s still not widely used. Of course, it had zero use last year, so it is making in-roads. I think we can chalk that one up to Oprah. Overall, these folks are starting to get involved but are not really enamored with the less literally social functions like bookmarking.

This year I decide to abandon the blog use analysis in favor of the mobile space. That is more a reflection of the audience I was sharing it with at UnSummit than any other reason.

I started with finding out what considerations people took into account when buying a mobile device. As an aside, I approached this question with the educated assumption that real people call them cell phones and are less hip to terms like Smartphone or hansdset. (See, not scientific) If it fits in my pocket and makes calls, it’s a cellphone. Text messaging, web access, email, etc. are features of that cellphone.

On a scale of one to five here is what was most important when it comes to buying cell phone.

Like me, you probably noticed that it’s all about the price and provider. In our discussion we came to the conclusion that “provider’ most likely implied coverage area. (Again, that non-scentific part.) You’ll also see that apps are not a deciding factor and video is the least of their concerns.

You can also see that this group is concerned about text messaging and that is confirmed in the amount of texting they do now. Those that send 20-50 texts a week more than doubled from year to year.

Finally, I was curious to see if my respondents knew their phone very well..like what kind it is. As an aside, less than a third knew the exact model of their phone.

You can see that though it seems like all you hear about is that the iPhone is sweeping the nation, ot everyone has popped for one.

So, as I said last year, it’s vital to remember that while you may be an adopter of social media and are watching episodes of Glee on your mobile device, most are texting on their cell phones.


A Gadget Guy’s Broken Heart

A few days ago I shared that I had decided to give it up for a Palm Pre on June 6th when it rolled out. As noted in my comments on that post and through my tweets on the same subject, I’ve spent a great deal of time on the phone with Sprint talking price plans. As of today, it looks like my first ever attempt at being “one of the first” to get a new smart-phone has been thwarted…and it’s breaking my gadget guy heart… But it’s also provided me with a decent customer service experience and a chance to  learn a few things.

Here’s the scoop, I walked into my local Sprint store and was told that I would need to upgrade all of the phones on my current account to handle the data plan that the Pre will require to operate in full bells and whistles mode. The only data plan currently available for the Pre. At first, I thought, “There’s probably a better price that ‘Mr. Personality’ at this particular Sprint outlet doesn’t know about.” So, off to Sprint Customer Service I went.

After many emails I found out that ‘Mr. Personality’ appeared to be right. This upgrade in plan is necessary for a Pre and represents about a $600 annual increase in my phone expense. Okay look, two of the phones on my plan only require voice and text, so
I don’t need the internet, video or the ability to stream TV on those
phones as it appears that is what the Pre needs…though I doubt it. In
addition, the monthly voice minutes would either far exceed anything I would ever need or go down across the
three phones. Now I realize that the additional expense is not all that
much (by early adopter standards) but I have a real hard time paying
something that I don’t need or won’t use. And within the current economic landscape,
paying for it is really foolish.

Not content with this email exchange I took Sprint up on an offer, made in one of the emails, to call them. Robert was incredibly helpful as he methodically dissected my plan and looked for the best possible way to get me as close to my current expenditure without services I didn’t need. Well, as hard as he tried, it couldn’t be done. Sprint is just plain set on pushing the increase in fees to all existing customers, no matter how long they’ve been with them or how many phones they have.

I applaud Robert for working so hard at this. The fact is that customer challenges will arise and how the company’s people handle it is the true judge of customer service. But, no matter how pleasant and helpful Robert was, a satisfactory rate was not to be had. Too bad.

Here’s some of what I learned from the experience, other than I’ll likely be holding off on the Palm Pre purchase:

  • Sprint customer service was generally positive. Robert even suggested that I wait and see what happens after the roll-out. Plans change once the bloom is off the rose. This, of course I know. But I had real gadget envy going.
  • There sure is a hell of alot of chatter about the Pre in the social media space.Though in all my tweeting about this on @plam_pre_for_me and my posts here, I received zero contact from Sprint or Plam, so they are either not monitoring the social stream or they have chosen not to reach out via that channel.
  • With this delay in purchasing the Pre, I can actually wait and see what the iPhone upgrades and rumored new AT&T plans could offer me. I may be able to move to the super-model sexy standard in smart-phones for less than I think.
  • My insistence on being logical does not allow me to be a “stand in line for the first one” kind of guy.

Oh well, my heart will heal. I’ll just have to continue saving myself for that perfect phone.

I’ve Been Saving Myself For the Right Phone…

…and I’ve decided to give it up for the Palm Pre!

Okay, it’s pretty clear that I’ve gotten in touch with my “inner-geek”, right? While that may be a fairly recent realization for me, I have always been a “gadget guy”. And there is no better gadget for me right now than a really cool smartphone.

The challenge for me has been deciding on when and to which “phone” should I commit. I mean, c’mon this is a big step. While maybe I’ve fooled around with a Treo 650 for years, taking that next step, allowing myself to care deeply enough for a phone for which I am willing to give it up (the “it” being my cash and possible two year contract) has taken plenty of will power and more than a few iPhone/Android induced cold showers.

 But I’m going to do it. On June 6th I’m going to step on up and lay down my money for a Palm Pre. The reasons are many. Some logical and some down right emotional and perhaps irrational. Let’s start with the emotional/irrational.

Top of the list: It’s not an iPhone. Blasphemy! I know! I’m a big fan of Apple. I crossed over from a PC last year and have been thrilled ever since. I’m an even bigger fan when I’m cursing my Windows machine, which I still use more than I’d like. But the fact is, I know the iPhone is great. I know that it is the standard by which all mobile devices are judged. I know I can always count on two of my colleagues at Minnov8, Steve Borsch and Graeme Thickins (as well as many with whom I hang) to go on and on about how the iPhone has changed their lives. They record with it, shoot video, edit, Skype, listen to music, comb their hair, make toast, blah, blah, blah. Yes indeed, in Apple’s words, “there’s an app for that.” But I want something different.

What about a G1 Android phone you say? Well, here’s another emotional response…It ain’t at all sexy. I could have given in to the Google phone…believe me I was tempted. It satisfied my “not an iPhone” criteria, it’s all about open source, and I was slightly swayed by some pimpin’ from my mobile developer business partner Justin Grammens. But the truth is, it’s a brick and not all that good to look at. Okay, I’m sorry if I’m being shallow and superficial but I just don’t want to wake up with “that” every morning.

Okay, so how about some rational reasons to pick up the Pre.

Let’s talk about the ability to multi-task. The Pre allows multiple applciations to be open and working at the same time. Though there may be “an app for that” for the iPhone, you need to run those apps one at a time. Running multiple apps at the same time sounds more like a mobile browser than a mobile phone.

Admittedly the apps are fewer for my…oops, I got a little premature there…I mean…the new Pre, but the fact that it’s is built on the WebOS platform means developers can easily work in Java, HTML, and CSS. OK that was real geek speak way of saying the it’s easier to build applications for the Pre3 and that means an explosion of apps should be around the corner.

Call me old fashioned but I like the concept fo the slide out QWERTY keyboard. Look, though I’ve been typing (or keyboarding as you kids say) for years and frankly, I still suck at it. A touchscreen keybord only makes it worse.

Also, if you’re to believe the hype, the battery life should be pretty sweet. Oh, and the wireless charger should make it easy to juice back up. (Yeah, I’m not thrilled by the fact that I’ll have to pay extra for that charger but, life is not perfect.)

Maybe this is too emotional but the look and feel is pretty sexy too. Though it’s not a supermodel-sexy like the iPhone, it’s not an ugly Betty like the G1. It’s more of the “look innocent until we’re alone”, curvy sexy. I like that. There’s
also a bit of mystery involved just to make it a bit more exciting.
Though I’ve been a Sprint customer for years, currently with three phones in
plan, I’m not exactly sure what it will cost me. Hopefully,
Sprint will make it easy to upgrade.

Finally, a feature that doesn’t get a lot of hype is that, as important as it is to me to get a Pre, it’s more important to Palm to get me. Let’s not sugar-coat it, this is a make or break play for Palm. Like me, many are about done with our frumpy, rumpled, “all I wear is sweat pants around the house” Treos. Palm really wants me to be happy with their new phone. They want me to take it out on the town and show it off to my friends. They have spent a great deal of time making it appealing and they want it to be very faithful to me. So, I’m thinking it will deliver.

So there it is. I’ve made the committment and I’m going to do my damnedest to get the Palm Pre on June 6th. Now, I know there are lots of gadget guys like myself that do it, but I’ve never camped out, stayed up late, or waited in a long line for anything before. And I’m not sure I will now. But there’s about 2 weeks left between now and the Pre launch and I’m going to watch intently what happens during the ensuing hype-fest.

In fact, being the social media enthusist that I am, I can’t pass up making this a project. So I’m going to chronicle the ramp up to the Pre launch and my purchase via Twitter. If you’re interested, follow along at @palm_pre_for_me as I get all Pre-geeky. Who knows, I might be inpsired to see what all the attraction of being “first” is. I just hope that Palm understands what I’m giving up here, considers my true feelings, and…is gentle.

Filling the “White Spaces”

 I found the phrase “white spaces” interesting when it was announced yesterday that the FCC has allowed conditional unlicensed use of “white spacestelevision spectrum. In an attempt to avoid getting bogged down in tech speak. This is the radio spectrum that is now available as a result of TV’s switch to digital.

Once the FCC found that the issue of interference with existing radio signals could be overcome through technology that shuts down any device using the “white space” once it senses another signal, granting access was a slam dunk.

Companies like Google and Microsoft herald the decision as a way to allow widespread mobile adoption. On the other hand, broadcast companies (seeing yet another reason to claim “everybody is out to get us”) and the likes of Verizon (already hot to charge more for services) are less than thrilled.

As I have said previously, I personally am thrilled with anything that allows the growth and spread of mobile access if it leads us closer to parity with other countries (Luxembourg for God’s sake) in services offered wirelessly. I am also concerned as a radio fan. This magic sensing thing-a-ma-bob that prevents interference with existing frequencies sure better work. The last thing any “channel” needs is a return to the “party line” annoyance of too many on a channel. Ick!

“White spaces”  also triggered in me another use of that term. A use that I see benefitting many media channels. As of late yesterday the flood of political advertising stopped…I’ll pause as you jump up and down with joy and do a couple of Tiger Woods arm pumps…done? This sudden loss of “content” in itself reveals a whole lot of “white space”.

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There’s Room For You On the Bandwagon

It started with a post from Doc Searls and..well..many of the folks I follow in the blogosphere started posting it. Excuse me while I hop on the bandwagon and post it for your consideration (if you haven’t already seen it).

The folks at MoFuse have a cool little application to help you take your blog mobile. Check it out here.

Couple of quick tips…

  1. Try to avoid the temptation to use all of the options. For mobile, the simpler the better. Not everyone has a the iPhone 3G.
  2. Don’t forget to post the link on your blog somewhere to alert your constituency that you have a mobile version. MoFuse offers PHP script for automatic forwarding, but not all blog services offer the ability to implemnt it. Like my Typepad account.
  3. Remember, the content is still the most important thing…no matter how cool the technology.

I’m gonna hop down off the bandwagon now.

Futuretainment or…Presentainment?

I caught a great post by O’Reilly’s Robert Kaye the other day. Robert’s coverage of ETech in San Francisco included a rundown of Mike Walsh’s Futuretainment: The Asian Media Revolution presentation. Here are some highlights on the topic of how the young people in Asia consume media compared to the good ol’ US of A…

Because many of the kids were born in the post Mao era, they have no idea what media was like as it evolved in the US and Western Europe. (CD’s? Never heard of ‘em.) Mike points out that most Asian’s use the internet for their main source of entertainment and they get most of that on their cell phones, not at the desktop. They have no problem creating multiple identities online, are more “group” focused yet seek to find a higher status for themselves in those groups on line.

Here’s something that we all have seen in movies but probably never really grasped…”Asian cultures blend low tech solutions with hi tech solutions seamlessly. For instance, while nearly everyone has a mobile phone in their pocket, bamboo is still used to build scaffolding for buildings.” Wow!

What all this increased “density of information” has lead to is Asians being able to grasp many more pieces of information at once and the culture actually cranking out so much more content. This is fascinating stuff.

As I consider all of this I’m struck by the word “futuretainment.” It’s quite easy to point to all of this and say this is the future of media in the US. To some degree, I believe that to be true. But, I’m not sure our culture will evolve the same way. Consider the circumstances for this “revolution” in Asia, specifically China. Here are a people who for years were cutoff from the advances (a very subjective term) that we experienced. It’s like the lid being lifted off a barrel in the rain. Suddenly all of this history, these advances, and this growth just start pouring in on a people that were familiar with something so simplistic. Of course there is a need to quickly decide what to adopt and what to scoop out of the barrel. If they didn’t they would surely drown. So what you see are a people hurdling over some of the stuff that has become part of our culture, in effect being unburdened by history. They don’t need to or even can stop at the CD era if it’s already passé. Why spend money on or time sitting in front of a computer when they can take it all with them on a phone.

In the US, for better or worse, we as a people are naturally going to be a bit slower to adopt. In many cases we are content with where media is and see no reason to change. For the purposes of example, we’ve spent our money on the CD and player or the computer. We’ll get to the mp3 player and smart phone; just give us a bit more time. Damn, this history of innovation can be a real burden, can’t it?

So while the “media revolution” is raging on in Asia, it may not necessarily be the future but the present without all the encumbrances of a past. Who knows, the Asian youth may decide that creating new IM accounts, assuming different identities for different purposes and precipitating virtual characters landing sponsorship deals is a waste of time and return to more simplistic “bamboo-centric” pursuits. That sure would allow all of us to stop paddling so hard in our barrel.

It’s Thursday, Must Be Radio: My week with Nabbit

Today you’ll find both radio (see why I talk radio each Thursday here.) and a new mobile application to go with it. A new media blogger’s double-play, sweet!

Back in early November Jumptech launched its beta version of Nabbit. This mobile application allows you to “tag” songs and commercials while listening to your favorite radio stations. I’m all about finding ways to build on the relationship between radio stations and their listeners so I was anxious to get up and running with this, especially since Jumptech is a company located right here in the Twin Cities. Hey, let’s here it for the home team. (Wow, two baseball references in one post.)

So, I head to the Nabbit website and sign up. Please keep in mind, though I do have pretty good knowledge of computers and cell phones I would not consider myself much better at installing software than the average user. Anyway, now that I’m registered, I go to set up my cell phone. Nabbit works with many of the new web-enabled “smart” phones. They have a list of models that the application has been configured to work with that provides an easy install…at least that would be the impression you would get. Of course, just my luck, my Treo 650 is not “easily” supported. Here is where the first “needs an easy button.” warning goes off. That’s cool though, remember, this is a “beta” version so the Jumptech guys are still shaking it out. After some surfing, downloading, installing and a few more e-mails to Nabbit, I’m up and running. This has become a 2 day experience. “Easy button.”

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MMS, SMS, and M&M’s

As part of a project that I’m working on, I’ve been spending
a bit of time in the world of mobile and cell phones. While clicking around the
ether I became curious about what was going to be the next big thing. That
actually led me to start wondering, if there is a “next big thing” what will it
mean for past big things, specifically SMS, or as you and I know it, text

I’ve always been a fan of Steve Smith at Mobile Insider so,
what the heck, I’ll pose the question to him. That question, “What’s next for SMS?”  More specifically, will it remain just a way to talk without using voice or
paper and a way to vote for your favorite Dancing With the Stars
couple or will it become more or…for that matter…less?

Steve’s response was quite simple, “I don’t think that text is going anywhere. Until the carriers get MMS
cross-carrier compatible and alter user habits, they have nothing that is so
compatible, easy, familiar and ubiquitous for users.” This is point that I have
addressed in the past. The massive need for The Easy Button as it pertains to
using a new tool is paramount.

Steve goes on to
say that familiarity and ease is also important. “A lot of people, especially
younger ones, prefer the curt, uncomplicated mode of communication of the SMS
environment.” He continues, “One thing we didn’t anticipate when it comes to
digital communications is how much less is more for a lot of people.” In the
last week, in playing with a new mobile application and juggling the
bowling balls involved in accessing it, I thought, “Texting this would be so much easier.” It’s like my fondness for chocolate; for me, even with all the fancy candy
out there, nothing beats a bag of M&M’s. I know them, I can get them anywhere, and their cheap…easy.

Of course, I’m
always looking for the monetization of our communication and Steve commented, “I
think SMS will remain the main revenue driver for the (mobile) carriers when it
comes to data and a primary trigger for initiating off-deck relationships with
users. It isn’t going anywhere because people like it, know it and have no viable
alternative on the horizon. Everything else is R&D and nice technologies to
wait-and-see with, but nothing even remotely challenges SMS.”

So with that said,
here’s the challenge; how do we push the capabilities of mobile farther without
making it too complicated. What is the next need for mobile users (“almond M&M’s”) and more
importantly, how can we satisfy it simply? Then, who will pay for it? This
platform offers so much let’s not waste it…at the same time, let’s not abuse
it. The users deserve and will demand it.

Revisiting RemainComm

I want to take an opportunity to follow-up on some of the
posts you’ve seen here…

ADM-About Da Money-Things are rolling along with the
formation of the Association for Downloadable Media, most importantly the announcement of its
first open meeting. If you’re into the whole new media thing and your headed
for the Podcast and New Media Expo coming up September 28-30 in Ontario, CA,
the meeting will happen at 7:30am on the 28th. Learn more by
clicking here. I also want to encourage you to join, especially if you’re about
making money with podcasting or any downloadable media.

A Note For the Teacher-I heard back from my son’s
communications teacher and she is anxious to dedicate a unit to communicating
in the world of new media. I love that! She has also asked for my help. So I’d love
to hear from you. If you have ideas on what to include in teaching middle school kids about
text, e-mail, blogging and more. Feel free to e-mail me here.

Google gives a
little “push” to make more “pull”
-Some activity in the FCC auction of the 700mHz band. Though the FCC didn’t completely go along with Google’s requests
for a completely open platform, they did set aside some of the best real estate
in the spectrum to be used by a carrier “as a network that is open to any
devices and services.” Google still hasn’t committed to be part of the
bidding but Steve Jobs and Apple have started to express some interest. Apple
vs. Google, Apple vs. AT&T, “dogs sleeping with cats”…This auction, set for
January 16th, 2008, could be fun to watch, to say the least.

From Parlor to Palm

With the speed by which the world of communication is
changing, every once in awhile I stop and try to take it all in. This is one of
those times.

Back in 1987, while Bon Jovi was replacing Debbie Gibson on
the radio and I was just getting rid of my amber computer monitor, I remember
talking with some friends about the state of entertainment and information at a
radio gathering. We were talking about where technology had led us and where it
was headed. The days of the family huddling around the radio in the parlor were
well behind us, radio and TV had made an indelible mark on all of us. We had
all had made enough “mix tapes” and boy weren’t those CD things cool, and the
internet? Hey, it might just take off.

After many beers and some very in depth thinking (tequila
shots) we were sure that there would be one “box” where you would receive all
your entertainment and information including TV, Radio, Music, News, etc. You
know, the “console” on high-tech steroids. You remember the “console”. Radio
(AM and FM!), TV, record changer, and 8-track all in a “luxurious piece of
furniture”. Many even had a remote. Remember that loud “snap” when you pushed
the channel button. Of course that’s really where the computer is…almost.

But back in ’87 (insert “old-timer” voice here) we had no
idea that brick we called a cell phone would evolve into the very same thing
and fit into the palm of your hand. Clearly, we would have needed many more
beers to even start that discussion.

Imagine where we are going, not to mention how fast we’re
getting there. Our kids can “text” faster than they can type (and some faster
than they can think), e-mail is easier to get than a letter, pay phones are
harder to find than Debbie Gibson music, and we can listen to what we want when
we want. You can watch TV or surf the net (Of course, better TV and speedier internet
is just around the corner.). If you’re lost, just open your GPS (now I really
don’t need to stop for directions) and if someone wants to find you, your phone
can be located the next time you use it (Yeah, the Bourne Ultimatum made me a
bit paranoid. You?).

What kind of habits do you have? The phone can relay your audio
and video usage without you doing anything more than standing near a radio or TV.
Family photos, more addresses than a Rolodex the size of a Volkswagen, your
financial records, and a Village People ring tone, all right there in your
hand. You might even be reading this on your Smartphone. And have you been to a
concert lately? The folks that make Bic lighters are pissed!

Whether you think this is a great way to save time, or just
a big intrusion on your life, you have got be amazed. Of course, our kids know
no other way…imagine what they’ll be coming up with when they are hanging
around talking to friends in 2017. “Hey, remember when we use to gather the
family around the old Nokia?”