A smartphone in your hand

Recently I bumped in to my old CEO (Bud Colligan) whom I worked for at Authorware many years ago. Bud’s now a venture capitalist with Accel Partners in Palo Alto and goes to every significant conference. At this particular one, he was chatting up Mitch Kapor and I stopped and interjected since I hadn’t seen Bud for quite some time.

I felt bad since Mitch excused himself and left. Interrupting them wasn’t my intention. In any event, it gave Bud and I some time to get caught up a bit and I was curious what he saw as the next, big thing and where VC investments were going. “Mobile,” he replied. We talked a bit about that, his brother Ed (who is CEO of Palm), convergence and the world being flat.

I’ve been working on something that necessitated quite a bit of research on mobile telephony, networks and where smartphones are heading. I must admit being quite taken aback at how quickly this space is growing (growth in smartphones worldwide is expected to jump from 5.7M units (11.1M in North America) in 2005 to 156.2M units (37M in North America) by 2008).  Also, the networks are accelerating in speed (GSM is 10-14kbps and the emerging third generation networks like high speed downlink packet access (HSDPA) promises a theoretical speed of 10.7mbps.

Wow. I’ve been goofing with the new Palm Treo700w at a Verizon stand leveraging their evolution data optimized (EV-DO) network and it is very fast. There are more applications for the PalmOS than for Windows Mobile, so I’m uncertain which Treo to buy.

What’s certain is that I’m weary of going to coffee shops for Wifi access, not having a device that I can do things with regardless of where I am, and a digital device that can store stuff I need and go fetch what isn’t on it. The smartphone is the only way to go.

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  1. Sean Kelly on March 14, 2006 at 4:00 pm

    I sincerely hope your mileage varies. I had (worked with/against) a HP iPAQ 6315 with PocketPC 2003 for the last 2.5 years. I found the screen too small to actually browse anything but websites that explicitly target Handhelds. These are still very few and far between. http://www.google.com/xhtml is by far the best.

    The worst part however was that instead of having the conveince of two devices in one you ended up with a device that combined the instability of a cellphone with the instability of a PDA give you something more unstable than either of the two devices. For example, my phone would ring, which would cause the pda to display a balloon prompting you to answer the call. However because a balloon was already displayed to notify me of a meeting the PDA would surpress the other notification and consequently the ringer sound that went with it. The result was that sometimes my phone would ring only once.

    Or, I was finally driven to enable a pin code because my phone would call people and create spurious contacts and appointments as it bounced around in my pocket. However, when the phone would ring a notification balloon would come up prompting me to answer the phone, but it would not recognize my clicking on the Answer button until I keyed the proper pin, which I couldn’t because the balloon was obscuring the number pad. So the net effect was someone would call me, and I’d have to reboot my phone and call them back, usually while they were leaving voice mail for me.

    Sorry to rant a rave. But I just recently went the other way. I always have my laptop with me. So if I want to browse the web at a coffee shop I do that with my laptop. If I want to make a call I just use my simple cellphone. I’ve had it for 2 months now and haven’t needed to reboot it at all.

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Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.