Bill Sobel's first-of-the-new-year New York Media Information Exchange Group breakfast seminar today focussed on the mobile world. The topic was: Wireless, WiMax, Mobile and Beyond: A Look at the Future of Communications.
The panel, moderated by WNBC tech reporter Sree Sreenivasan, who is the Dean of Students at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, and featured:
Gene Keenan, VP/Mobile Services at Isobar Global;
Laura Forlano, Visiting Fellow, Information Society Project at Yale Law School;
Dana Spiegel, Executive Director, NYCWireless;
and Ari Zoldan, CEO and Founder, Launch 3 Communications.
Among the most interesting points:
Laura Forlanoobserved that ubiquity is the goal - she cites the familiar tag line, "anytime anywhere." But, she argues, location and context are really the most important things. She cites survey results which show that the availability of WiFi is a significant factor in attracting people to certain places, certain locations. These are still early adopters, skewed male, high incomes. Location and specificity have constituencies.
Gene Keenan made a point which I think is still central to all discussions of modern communication: with mobile in particular, you can’t talk AT consumers, need to talk TO them. Comes back to something we've said here over and over - it's the conversation that counts.
For more of today's conversation, please click below.
Dana Spiegel: Public spaces are becoming the third most popular space for internet access (after home and office). People tend to have a tremendous affinity for these spaces and the companies who support them. ; These hotspots can also form advertising and marketing vehicles. It can be as basic as brand identity/logo on home pages – 100% of people who access the Internet through a hotspot will see that hotspot’s home page, with its logos. It’s a tremendously powerful medium for advertisers, for opportunities to get a message out there.
Ari Zoldan: Talks about building in remote areas of world and then selling time back to the big carriers. WiMax is WiFi on steroids – expanding the limits of WiFi from perhaps 50 feet out as far as thirty miles, in many cases. WiMax enables small villages to get online with very little infrastructure required. He predicts voice will wind up being given away for free – it’s a commodity these days; companies are going to have to figure out what they can bring in terms of value added. Predicts that WiMax will change the way we deal with wireless technology.
Sree Sreenivasan asks a question that is key for many of us: What about security and safety?
Dana Spiegel: Same as the security of any Internet connection. If you have a laptop, regardless of how you connect to the internet, you have to put in proper antivirus and firewall protection. A wireless hotspot is no more – and no less – safe than any other kind of Internet connection. One tip: always check to beb sure your firewall is active. Then, look for known public hotspots. Look to be sure their splash page is a real organization’s splash page, standing behind the hotspot. If you don’t see one of those pages, then somebody could be spoofing it. If you do see one, then the network itself is not a security risk.
Another interesting point from Gene Keenan: Data shows that the old canard about people don’t want to view content on their phones is wrong. It’s the device. iPhone proves it. People hate their phones, don’t hate the mobile web.
Another survey result from Laura Forlano: About 60% of NY users are willing to watch an ad or video in exchange for free access to hotspots, but very unwilling to pay for the connectivity.
Gene Keenan: Telcos are opposed to WiFi nets because it disrupts their business model.
Ari Zoldan: WiMax is probably about 5-7 years away from heavy deployment.
Q – What about Google’s Android “open spource” operating system for mobile technology.
Gene Keenan: Looking for write-once work-anywhere operation. So far, though, it’s just smoke and mirrors. Google needs to get manufacturers on board or get consumers to download the stuff.
Dana Spiegel: Most companies aren’t going to be interested in developing for Android. But it could do for every user of mobile phones what iPhone has doen for its users: bring the mobile web to the individual.
Ari Zoldan: I think Android is going to open up the architecture.