Tuesday, March 23, 2004
Convergence lessons from Cebit
Cebit 2004 is over for me and I am now in Atlanta for the CTIA show, where we show Nokia Lifeblog on the Nokia stand.
Cebit was unique as my focus and interest was much broader than just phones. In addition to the telecoms hall I spent a lot of time on the Intel, IBM, Toshiba and at the SONY stand. From observing an array of different products and services some major trends of convergence became appearent.
1. It is getting possible to build the life recorder
Integrating voice, image, video and text is becoming possible in an uncompromised form factor known to the broad audience as a mobile phone. The term phone does this device little credit and hence I prefer to call it a life recorder, as most of the bill of materials comes from recording technologies rather than communication technoloies. Snippets of evidence of this trend can be seen in several phones with integrated video camera recording functionality capable of recording 30fps in QVGA resolution. Some UMTS phones are recording VGA with 30fps and encoding it in MPEG4. Digital cameras which enable VGA, 30fps recording and encoding in MPEG4 are getting common. There is an explosion in memory size. Flash based memories capable to store 1h of video on flash or small 0.85" hard disks storing up to 4h. We are getting minute storage capable to recording as much as tape based video cameras, which are very big and very expensive. Several phones were shown which solved the ergonomics problem and lets voice, text, image and video co-exist without an ergonomic conflict, like mixed one-hand and two-hand use.
1. The Laptop is becoming a personal communications tool.
The integration of Wi-Fi totally changes to nature of a laptop. Laptops are now powerful enough and small enough to really become communications tools. Apple called 2003 'the year of the laptop' and for them the launch of the 12" and the 17" marked a beginning of a new era. I have heard several people say that the 12" is the best computer they ever owned and coming from guys who have had many computers it is a pretty strong statement. It is particularly the segment of ultralaptops which excites me. What makes the Apple 12" so exciting is not only its size but the fact it sleeps so well and very wakes up and gets back online. In an earlier post I made the remark that the Mac penetration was nearly 50% at O'Reillys Emerging technology conference. As the Macs still are out of the corporate world, I was searching for a PC based substitute for the Apple's 12" category and I was stunned by the IBM X40 ThinkPad. It was so well engineered and with the extended battery, solid keyboard with up to 7.5h of time which should be enough for most mobile users. The X40 is small, light and reasonably priced. It could be a big success and it also seems that the PC is catching up with Apple on Wi-Fi simplicity, at least it is possible for consumers to get onto hotspots! Wi-Fi changed my computing behavior completely; I have a really great Mac at home with two big flat screen monitors. The only drawback is that it is fixed to a place. After installing an Airport network I have started to prefer to do my web surfing from my work PC anywhere in my house. Never thought Wi-Fi would have such a profound impact on my computing behaviour. This behavior led me to investigate home servers...
3. The Home server, rebranded as an entertainment center is the future of the Home PC
Intel was showing off the "Kessler" concept which integrated PC, Wi-Fi, RAID and lots of other technology I still do not understand, but it left a permanent impression on me. It was promising a 7-click set up of a home server solution. Since my digital life is in the size of 150GB, I see no future for mobile back up storage. Intel and other players wants to market the home server as a home entertainment center. SONY showed up second generation of their Home Servers, without RAID though. If the Laptop becomes the personal terminal then there is still lots of shared stuff and back up which needs to be somewhere. There are however some challenges. 1. The first is cost. SONY charges about €2.800 for their solution. The second is DRM. This is a sensitive issue, with lots of views and this topic alone could postpone the emergence of the third trend with several years.
I have exactly the same experience, though in my case I have at home a Linux desktop machine (which functions also as my home server), and a Mac Powerbook. I much prefer using the Powebook, simply because it is untethered. I type in the bed, on the sofa, at the dinner table... It's just so much more convinient, not to mention aesthetic.
However, for "serious" use, such as coding I still prefer the desktop because of the better keyboard, larger screen and more ergonomical work position.
Posted by: Janne Jalkanen at Mar 23, 2004 8:33:59 AM
I feel that I have to give you a pointer to Sony's TR serie. I have one myself and love it... and so does everyone I meet. Everyone comments is beauty, size and bright screen.
Posted by: Johan Bengtsson at Mar 23, 2004 6:06:16 PM
We really need to get you a portable Mac, surfing/working on a Pc at home…come on!
What is the world coming to?
Posted by: Michael at Mar 24, 2004 3:33:00 PM
Our group would like to extend an invitation to you for the first
International Workshop on Inverse Surveillance (IWIS). As you are a
former head of Nokia's User Interfaces, and an established innovator with
your contributions including the Navikey and Series 60 UI, I have
personally admired your work as an HCI researcher and enjoy keeping up
with your 'Moving Experiences' Blog. In particular, with the leading edge
work you have been doing lately on Nokia's Lifeblog project, we believe
that this pioneering workshop may be of interest to you. The workshop is
being organized by a program commitee consisting of world luminaries such
as Joi Ito, the world's first moblogger, and Professor Steve Mann, the
world's first cyborg. This is a great oppurtunity to meet other bright
minds, and set the agenda for the future of inverse surveillance (aka
'sousveillance') which will be a major cultural force. Whereas
'surveillance' implies 'something that looks at people' or things that
surround us and look at us, 'sousveillance' implies 'people looking at
something', something being the things around us. Sousveillance empowers
people to capture the world around us, anytime, anywhere, which fits very
well with your LifeBlog project.
For more information on the workshop, please visit:
It is also being covered on Joi Ito's Moblog:
We would truly appreciate your important presence at this ground-breaking
event, certainly this is a golden oppurtunity to represent Nokia
and participate in creating something big. We hope you do not miss out on
this rare and wonderful chance to meet other brilliant scientific
minds like yourself in an intimate collaborative setting and set an agenda
for the future. We look forward to your response.
International Workshop on Inverse Surveillance (IWIS)
My Organization Webpage:
Humanistic Intelligence (HI) Lab
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