The Mobius Boston event had some similar presentations (namely Windows Vista and the Windows Mobile Update) as the Mobius Thailand event that Jason attended. As such, I wonít bore you by talking about the same things that Jason has already covered in his posts (which can be found here
Mobius Boston kicked off on the Tuesday night with a meet and great in the hotelís restaurant. It was a great chance to get to know some of the new faces that are attending this years conference. It was also a great chance to snap some pictures of the latest and greatest devices. You might have caught my post last week about Measuring up the Smartphone QWERTY Devices.
These pictures where snapped at the Mobius meet and greet event. Iíve managed to grab a couple more pictures comparing the S620 and the i320. The amazing Derek Synder was more than happy to pass around his Excalibur for people to photograph and test out. Arne Hess from the::unwired brought along his HTC Breeze. I will say, it is less ugly in person than it is in pictures. But itís certainly not as nice to look at as the new i-mate SPL. I also spent some time playing with the 2 different Star Trek Smartphones. Cingular's version has the extended battery and the 128MB memory. Because of this, there is a small bulge on the device. Compared to the i-mate's version, you almost wouldn't notice it. Smart move on Cingular's part to go the with the larger battery.
Just after the event got started, Microsoft gave everyone a new Samsung i320 Smartphone. Iíve been playing with it for the last couple days and you can be sure Iíll be posting more details about this in the near future.
Rafe Blandford, from All About Symbian talked to us about Symbian, Nokia, and that whole other world that can't be ignored. With over 300 partners and approximately 60 devices in the pipeline, thereís little question that Symbian the market leader right now. Rafe talked about the various devices and UIís that are available and why there are different UIís. Rafe showed us a number of demos including a cool Visual History feature that comes as a standard part of the browser on all S60 3rd Edition phones. It keeps a local cache of the web pages that youíve visited and when you press the back key, it pops up a windows showing you these pages and allows you to quickly navigate back to the page of your choice. Itís really slick to see.
I was totally amazed when Rafe hooked up his N60 Smartphone directly to the projector and started to show off the device. I know that some Pocket PCís can connect to projectors, but they require special cards and cables. To my knowledge, there was nothing more than a cable used for this. Itís a really impressive way to do a presentation or a software demo.
The next presentation was from Jim Morisson, the CEO of i-mate. Jim talked about 2 of the things that i-mate are doing today for the enterprise. The first being i-mate Suite which offers the ability to wirelessly backup data, remote assistance, remote wiping, and to securely access and transfer files. The second offering being customization. i-mate will build a customized ROM image inside of 36 hours. This allows the enterprise to purchase devices and have them pre-configured with any of the required certificates, applications, carrier settings, ringtones, home screens, or what have you, that might be required. From here, Jim started a discussion with the group about what level of customization we think the average user would like when purchasing a phone 5 years from now. The opinions among Mobians varied greatly. However, thereís no question that the youth of today are after customization. They want a unique device and theyíll pay more for that. It was a very interesting discussion and some great points where made by all. In the end, everyone agreed that some level of customization would be needed and the real issue came down to how does one present these options to the customer in the least confusing way.
Jim informed us that i-mate has 8 months to go on their agreement with HTC. Times have changed since they first paired up with HTC. Back then, both companies needed each other and thatís not the case anymore. Jim stated that going forward all new contracts are for exclusive rights. So you wonít see i-mate selling the same device as the carriers or other resellers like Qtek. Jim also mentioned a couple very interesting things regarding the look of the latest i-mate JAQ device. Yes, he knows itís ugly. Itís ugly because thatís what the customer wanted. According to Jim, they were approached to create a device that was short on looks, but strong on power. The end result was the JAQ. This is the device that you can use at work, because you have to, but you wonít take out at night and show it off to friends. Thus reducing the number of stolen devices and the number of beer soaked devices.
I pushed Jim a little after his presentation for some indication on what kind of company would seek to do this. Was it a service company that has numerous field reps out roaming around. Surely it wouldnít be something that the executives would carry on them. He only offered one word to answer my question Ė government.
Sling Media showed up to make a couple of announcements. The news slipped out a little early thanks to the FCC.
Anyway, Sling is proud to announce that 3 new SlingBoxes will be coming to the market very soon. The first box is designed for analog Cable and priced at $179. The second SlingBox is targeted at Audio/Video connections and is also priced at $179. The third device, and this is the one to get, in my opinion, is the SlingBox Pro. The Pro features inputs galore. There is also going to be an optional cable that will allow you to hook this up to your HD set top box. The Pro will sell for $249 when it hits the streets. All 3 versions offer a much improved performance. You can trust me on that.
Older SlingBoxes will still be supported but will no longer be available for purchase. You might be able to pick one up on sale in the coming weeks. The other announcement that Sling had was about Sling Player Mobile. If you live in Canada, then youíll be happy to know that this is now available for purchase to SlingBox owners in Canada. So get mobile and start Slinginí.
That brought a close to the first full day of Mobius. We all headed out of a nice sail around Boston harbour. Then it was back to the hotel to catch a little shut-eye before day two gets underway.
The second day started off with Wes Salmon giving us an overview of Crossbow. For those of you that are not familiar with that name, itís the codename for the next major release of Windows Mobile. AKUís are just bug fixes and minor updates. You wonít see any big changes in an AKU release Ė for the most part. Wes was very willing to answer any of our questions and even show us step-by-step how things will be different. Mobius is not an NDA covered event, but Microsoft asked that we donít talk about what we saw. I can say this; Crossbow will show you that Microsoft does listen to your feedback. Itís not going to be a perfect OS Ė such a thing just doesnít exist. However, it does make some well deserved improvements to Windows Mobile. I saw a number of changes that have been discussed around here for a while. You wonít be disappointed, trust me on that. Unfortunately, Crossbow wonít be released until the middle of 2007. So thereís still some waiting time left.
After the Crossbow talk, Horace Luke got up to talk about the importance of design. Horace is the Creative Director, Windows Mobile and Embedded Devices Group. Horace is an extremely passionate person who has a love for his work. Itís always great to listen to him speak. Horace is pushing a design first approach which helps to ensure that the user experience is top and features and specifications are coded to match. While Crossbow didnít start with this design first approach, it seems to have caught a little of the idea. Youíll really get a feel for this when Photon ships.
Horace then kicked off the discussion about The Mobius Project and gave each of the groups a little background information. The idea behind The Mobius Project is to use the experiences and skills of the Mobius group to help develop concepts on the future of mobility. My group was focused on building a solution for the practical user. It was a hard task to come up with something that everyone could agree upon. Everyone has their own vision of what is simple and easy. Fortunately, we worked hard and won the Best Effort award. Horace will take the findings from each team and pass them along to his team to expand upon.
Just like last year's Mobius event in Seattle, Mobius Boston was a great opportunity to meet and chat with other mobile enthusiasts, as well as sharing our personal experiences and the experiences of our various communities about Windows Mobile with Microsoft.
Mike Temporale is the Managing Editor of Smartphone Thoughts. During the daylight Mike masquerades as an IT Consultant focusing on Business Intelligence and .NET solutions for Enterprise and large business. He spends his evenings with his lovely wife where they read Dr. Seuss books over and over again to their two hyperactive children.