At CTIA 2010 I was able to walk the show floor, meet with a number of vendors, go to Gerry Purdy’s Innovation Dinner, and also attend a number of keynotes and panels. From my viewing these were some of the interesting products and services that I saw:
Toktumi is Mobile VoIP software that allows the user to use voice minutes over a Wi-Fi network or the 3G data network. It essentially functions as second line for your phone and it cost $14.99 a month. It offers nice features like conference calling for up to 20 people, and cheap international calling. It works well with the iPhone giving an iPhone like user interface, and declining an AT&T call without losing the VoIP call. It basically gives all of benefits of VoIP calling: less costly nationwide voice minutes and cheaper international calling, with a good user interface and a lot of good calling features. It may not be for everyone but it is good for small businesses who want to look larger especially those with an international component and it is good for people who do a lot of calling, especially internationally and want to save money. The long term effect of services like this are easier call set up for groups and more price pressure on voice services especially international voice services.
AirKast is a platform that allows radio stations to stream their listening content to users of smart phones such as the iPhone, Blackberry, and Android devices via an application. The application also allows users to see information and advertisements from that radio station. The radio station can offer interactive ads that allow the customer to interface with sponsors. The benefit to the consumer is that they can listen to their radio station via their phone when they are away from a traditional radio or out of town. There can be significant interest for people who want to listen to their local sports team when they are out of town. Out of country radio stations could also be popular. Most of the implementations so far have been music services. These services also give radio stations the opportunity to engage advertisers with an interactive platform; and gives them relevance, local targeting and reach with the new devices that are coming out.
The NearbyNow Mobile Shopping Platform creates applications that allow customers of retailers and brands and readers of magazines to shop for items that are seen in magazines, or heard about from friends. On the iPhone retailers can display their wares on an application or a magazine can show items that were advertised or displayed in the magazine (i.e. Seventeen). On the application users can find the item, gather information about the item, put a hold order on the item, and find the store where that item is sold. The benefit to the consumer is that they can find an item they saw in a magazine and be able to find the nearest place to try it on, and to purchase the item. For print magazines it gives them an added way to entice advertisers as there is added benefits in giving the customer an additional place to shop, learn about a product, put a hold on the item at the store and get directions to the store.
The Computrace software from Absolute Software is essentially LoJack for PCs. It allows people and organizations to retrieve their PCs if they are lost, stolen or have not been returned. The service can remotely delete information on the PC and recover laptops via monitoring of the computer activity (IP address, Cell Tower Usage). The software is located in the firmware of the computer and can be reconfigured on a computer even if the hard drive is erased. This can be good for individuals or businesses that have had their computers stolen, schools that want their kids to return lent computers, or law enforcement that wants to arrest criminal thief rings. So far there has not been a strong market for this service for smart phones as law enforcement has showed more interest in PC recovery. But that may change in the future as smart phones are used more like PCs and the information stored on these devices is more valuable.
Leapwave offers a service that allow venues like bars and stadiums to provide information, games and content to viewers using the TV screen or other digital signage at those venues and the mobile phone as the interactive device. These can be used for trivia contests or games, and ads can be placed next to the games on the screen. The added benefit of the service is that it can give additional entertainment to patrons, provide more audience participation for live events like voting on live entertainment, and bring in additional advertising revenue. This is one more example of how a mobile phone can be use as an interactive device in a very customized solution and create an additional platform for advertising.
Billing Revolution is a company that allows merchants to set up one click billing for credit card transactions from the merchant’s web site or application on a mobile phone. One click buying by companies like Amazon has made shopping easier on the web. On a mobile phone where clicks are at a premium one click billing is even more important. This can be beneficial for merchants who want to promote buying in a mobile situation, entice deal of the day buying, or attract purchasers who use their mobile phone more than their PC. Besides credit cards Billing Revolution can be attached to PayPal accounts. This is one of the steps that had to happen to increase m-commerce and boost mobile advertising, basically easy purchasing on a phone. This may even be applicable to some retail environments where few items are purchased but there are long waiting lines. Purchasers can make selections via barcode, pay via credit card, and have an employee check the items purchased when they leave the store (Like Home Depot). The benefit to consumers is that they can easily purchase items on their cell phones; the benefit to business is that consumers are more likely to purchase items on their cell phones if it is an enjoyable and easy experience.
Right out of Star Trek episode, a wearable computer that is essential a headset with a small computer screen at the end of a slim arm so that the user can access computer information while their hands are free. The computer responds to voice commands. The screen is small but it is close to the eye so viewing is like a normal computer screen. It is still fairly expensive so that it will be used for specialized industrial applications. Exact applications will probably revolve around specific information retrieval, and remote control of other devices. But if you want to get an email from your boss when you are on top of a rig you can do that too. It also allows for more efficient and safer workplace because two hands are free at all times. It the future there could be a web cam in front of the arm to relay and record video information which can be examined by experts in the home office.