StratVantage Consulting, LLC — Mike’s Take on the News 06/25/01

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StratVantage Consulting, LLC — Mike’s Take on the News 06/25/01

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The News – 06/25/01

Here’s To Looking Up Your Old Address

There’s no denying that wireless is one of the hottest emerging technologies. Scarcely a day goes by without some breathless prediction of the growth of wireless devices. Some samples, which I used in my presentation at the CAMP Designing a Handheld Strategy for Your Enterprise conference in Chicago last week:

· 480 million mobile phone users today will become 1 billion by 2003

· US mobile phone users will spend more time on the wireless Internet (75 hours per year) than making wireless phone calls (30.2 hours) by 2010

· 34.4 million mobile Web users in Asia, an increase of 29 percent in 3 months

· Triple digit sales growth of wireless devices until 2004 – will soon replace PCs as most popular Net access method

Sounds great, I guess, but in this brave new world of wireless interactivity, how are we going to find each other? This problem is twofold, comprising a human element – remembering everyone’s contact info – and a technical element – the Internet will be out of addresses, probably within the next year.

Let’s consider the human problem first. Remember how business cards used to look back in the day? Name, title, address, and phone number. Seen a business card recently? Name, title, address – some things don’t change – but also main office number, direct dial, pager, cell phone, FAX, email address and Web page address. We’re so connected we could scream! And, if you’re like me, it doesn’t end there: How many email addresses do you have? I have at least five, but I’m probably forgetting a few. How about phone numbers at home? I have seven.

Unified messaging promises to consolidate some of this clutter, but it’s not making tremendous inroads. The idea is to consolidate voice and data messages in a single mailbox and access methodology. Thus you could have a single phone number (voice and FAX) and a single email address, and they’d reach you wherever you are.

If you really needed multiple email addresses (one for work, one for home), you could always have them consolidated programmatically for delivery to a single device. Oh, wait. No, you can’t, because Research In Motion just received a patent on the technique of combining multiple email boxes for delivery to a single device. Their patent covers figuring out that emails have arrived from multiple addresses and rewriting the addressing and reply-to fields so you can reply from your device, which might be, for example, RIM’s Blackberry pager. RIM is currently suing Glenayre Electronics for infringing this less-than-a-month-old patent.

Now I don’t want to get off on a rant here, and I don’t have intimate knowledge of the patent, but from what I read at the US Patent Office , it hardly seems like a remarkable bit of programming. But I guess if Amazon can patent one click purchasing (involving the stunning technological breakthrough of saving your payment information for reuse), any obvious lame-brained hack can be patented. Not that that’s a bad thing.

Regardless, we’re going to need some way to contact folks that is independent of the access method. It would be nice to have a worldwide white pages of email addresses, but unscrupulous spammers make this an unworkable idea. And on services such as InfoUSA , WhoWhere , Yahoo People Search , and BigFoot , I couldn’t even find my own current email address (BigFoot had a bunch of my old ones).

Services such as and others attempt to market themselves as permanent email addresses, but you’re really at their mercy if they ever go out of business. There has even been a suggestion to base one’s email address on one’s Social Security number (please, no!) or other government identifier. I don’t think schemes like this will fly. It’s much more likely that people will be assigned a permanent phone number, perhaps with extensions to designate business from personal.

Any way you look at it, this is a burgeoning problem. Once your house or your refrigerator have an email address, it will be orders of magnitude worse.

Now, about those dwindling Internet addresses. We’ll address this problem in tomorrow’s SNS, but it looks like the solution, IPv6, is slow a-coming, and will cause a lot of pain before it’s in place. See you tomorrow.

Information Week

Briefly Noted

  • Buzzword Alert: Alert SNS reader David Dabbs passed on a newsletter that featured a particularly juicy buzzword: next-bench marketing, AKA nerd marketing. Issue #77 of Microprocessor Watch defines the term thusly:

This situation is a badly overgrown version of the way we designed products at HP during the neolithic era of electronics (the 1970s). Back then, we called the approach "next-bench" marketing. Today, you’d call it "nerd marketing." The key philosophy behind this approach is to take your newly minted idea for a product or feature, pop up from your chair, hang your arms over the cube wall, and ask the person next to you if your idea has merit. If that person answers yes, then you’ve obviously got a winner. If you get a negative response, then you probably didn’t explain it very well, so you try the person on the other side of your cube. Next-bench marketing may be fine for oscilloscopes, voltmeters, and similar items used by engineers and other geeks, but it doesn’t replace good market research when designing consumer products like information appliances.

This is a great description of what passes for marketing in many companies today. Not that that’s a bad thing.
Microprocessor Watch

  • I Want This PDA: Mitac has released Bluetooth-equipped PDAs with color screens and wireless Internet access. The beauty part is Mitac supports either Windows CE or embedded Linux (for the geek in you). Based on an Intel StrongArm 206Mhz CPU, MiTAC’s High-End WinCE based color PDAs use a back-lit 3.8" color TFT LCD display, and include a Compact Flash slot.
  • Paging Dick Tracy: Samsung has produced a CDMA2000 video-enabled telephone. It supports Video On Demand (VOD) and Audio On Demand (AOD) in 200,000 colors with a two-inch screen. The bad news? Only South Korea has 3G wireless CDMA2000 networks. Or you could move to Japan, where DoCoMo has “soft launched” their supposedly-delayed-till-yearend 3G service with Java-enabled Panasonic video phones (pictured).

  • The Next Digital Divide: Futurist George Gilder is fond of referring to the last “digital divide,” which pitted centralized, multi-megaflop computing against personal computers. The conflict was resolved due to the abundance of transistors – PC makers could “waste” them in order to give people unshared computing resources. We all know who won. Now, Gilder analyst Bret Swanson says the next digital divide will be based on abundant bandwidth. With all the dark fiber (installed, but unused fiber runs) in the ground, the next winners will waste bandwidth to give everyone unshared broadband. I don’t know about you, but I find George Gilder a bit, well, breathless is I guess how I’d put it. Nonetheless, I believe there’s a lot of merit in his ideas. Check out the article for yourself and see what you think.
    Gilder Report

Can’t Get Enough of ME?

In the unlikely event that you want more of my opinions, I’ve started a Weblog. It’s the fashionable thing for pundits to do, and I’m doing it too. A Weblog is a datestamped collection of somewhat random thoughts and ideas assembled on a Web page. If you’d like to subject the world to your thoughts, as I do, you can create your own Weblog. You need to have a Web site that allows you FTP access, and the free software from . This allows you to right click on a Web page and append your pithy thoughts to your Weblog.

I’ve dubbed my Weblog entries “Stratlets”, and they are available at . Let me know what you think. Also check out the TrendSpot for ranking of the latest emerging trends.

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