This year's 4th annual 2013 Always On Mobile Summit was held at the historic Fox Theater in downtown Redwood City California, the heart, as they say of Silicon Valley. I did actually cross "Sand Hill Road" twice on my way to and after dinner at the new location of Fleming's Steak House. We sat and ate in the patio, offering a combination of cold and then too hot temperature, while catching up with a colleague from my Peacemaker Corps days and marveling on the vibrancy and energy in the place. There was not a seat available at 6:30 p.m. in the dining room, so many movers and shakers having an early dinner, close a deal and go home to their family of growing children. This part of America just keeps on innovating and growing theirs and our economic base. But boy do the entrepreneurs just keep getting younger, but more on that later.
Up early, packed my bag, jumped into my rental car, we Californians, never without our own wheels. Actually there is some decent public transportation available in Northern California, especially from San Francisco and San Jose, driven by the wealth in that part of our country and the need to move between the two cities easily. One would hope that all that technical output could bring other ways of travel for those who live there. I did see lots of bicycles with commuters, mostly casually dressed not like New York City where bikers can be in suits and ties. Arriving at the Fox Theater I was early and had time for some coffee and yogurt, the beauty about Tony's Always On Conference, there is always food for the brain, good healthy food for our bodies, and sometime food for the soul. I checked my pre-arranged interviews and discovered that two appointments to interview mobile experts, one a reporter from Forbes and a mobile expert from Visa had been cancelled, since they were not coming.
I took my breakfast and the conference agenda which today was just a printed one page, folded in half and printed on each side, crammed with a buffet of participants, who have mobile on their brain, and walked up stairs to the theater's balcony where tables were placed to have meetings or a meal. I had pre-scheduled an interview with Hans Erickson, president and COO of Phunware, Inc., for the morning, and as I sat sipping my coffee, looked at my watch, I wondered if he also would be a no show. Just as I put my cup down, a gentleman approached the table and asked if I was Carole Krechman, saying yes he introduced himself as Hans from Phunware. Third time the charm as it is said.
That was perfect timing, we sat for almost an hour discussing his company and their new relationship with Cisco, his long terms view of mobile and how it is changing the face of how we live. Hans shared his view of how experience, which he and his company have lot's of, brings results. Advertisers can't value a mobile offering without analytics, and all developers want to increase their user base so what Phunware offers is an end to end solution for current creators. Looking to the future, Hans' believes mobile will become the tool of enterprise for communication and delivery of information public and then private. In my opinion Phunware is the most well positioned company to lead the pack, with history, experience and professional management. It's too corny to say that they were the adults in the room, but it is true.
Did I say a buffet, more like an orgy of information, presented to us in a brand new style of conferencing developed by Tony Perkins and staff and introduced to this very flexible cutting edge audience for the first time at this event? He calls it de-composing the delivery of information, so by having a thought leader, a host, and a group of chosen participants to share their views on a given subject, everyone in the audience had a chance to participate in some form, either by having been invited, getting an opportunity to ask a question, or voting with a system that was easily accessible by ones computer or smart phone devices. The votes were tabulated as we watched and it was fun to observe, like any survey there were winners and some losers. I still wish that there were more women in the mix, my friend Pera Vorsteher, co-founder of SMAATO, is certainly a leader in advertising for Apps and mobile websites. We have been at a few of these gathering, and are still waiting for more than two women to be invited to speak.
Which brings me to a most impressive presentation, which was made mid-afternoon by the thought leader Brian Wong, CEO of kiip, who began this company three years ago when he was 19 and is now sharing with us his thoughts of closing the $20 billion mobile advertising gap. He discussed how TV and other more traditional delivery of content grabs about 80 percent of the advertising dollar even though a much larger percent of the audience gets their content from a mobile device. He described mobile advertising as a moment of time for the consumer, and that it is important for the advertiser to own that moment. We need to push the creative envelop, surprising delights offered which keep the consumer absorbed. Brian's energy captivated the room, and there were a list of companies that are resident in this space and want to own it. There was Fiksu and their discover app, Lifestreet Media, which helps build brands, and Tobias Schmidt, CEO of wywy, which bridges the advertising from TV to Mobile. In future blogs I will go into more detail about companies who were part of the participants in this very critical discussion on this subject, since right now advertising is the economic model that drives growth and funding for the mobile space.
The day moved into early evening as we got to the last presentation which was titled Challenges and Opportunities in the Mobile Enterprise with thought leader was Tim Guleri from Sierra Ventures hosted by Larry McDonough with had the most interesting title I have ever seen on a business card, "Principal Evangelist," BlackBerry. After a very visionary talk by Tim, I wander past the stage and sat next to Larry, to share my love, longevity and loyalty to BlackBerry and how I strongly support their survival. I shared some thoughts about my company's Enhanced Mobile Video Platform EMVP and how we envisioned it to be a great tool for enterprise to share videos with employee all over the world, whom have smart phones and are not tethered to a lap top or a desk top computer. He shared with me the beauty of the new Q10 BlackBerry with the QWERTY key board, showed me the magnificence of its bright colors and I was in love. Then he looked at me, said do you want one, let me see if there are any left that I brought to give to the mobile company winners. That was the nicest thing that had happened to me at one of these conferences for all the many years that I have attended. In the end, he gave me his, which was a demo unit and I left the conference later than I had planned and scurried up to SF airport and back to Palm Springs where I am headquartered, such a smile on my face all the way home.
The week ended and I headed to the ATT store where I purchased my old BlackBerry to set up the phone with my contacts, emails, and text messages, photos and all those important pieces of your life that phone device holds on to for us. There was a long wait with so many customers there to purchase new devices and services. Mobile is certainly the rage. After waiting for about one hour, we decided to come back another day and made an appointment for Monday afternoon. After all, I had waited for the Q10 to come on the market for several years, what would two more days be. I have patience for these things most of the time.
After work we went to the ATT store and met Tony, not the one from Always On, but a very knowledgeable employee of the store, who unfortunately never worked on a Q10 before, but felt he was capable of getting me set up and on my way. Well another two hours later and it was apparent that he was not going to figure out how to download my large data base or get my Go Daddy email into the device. I was heartbroken and we left, not knowing what to do.
The next day I texted Larry and asked for help, and it arrived like a white knight on horseback with the high level technological help that BlackBerry has for its Enterprise leaders. My computer guru, that husband of mine with years of experience in computer technology spent another several hours with Mike from BlackBerry, not just to get my large database and multiple emails installed, that went very smoothly, but during those hours he learned a great deal about the phone, its operating system, shortcuts and with all this great support now he too has fallen in love with the device. We love the hub, a place on your phone where all the information that comes and is gathered into the first screen that you see. What a great innovation.
Back to the telephone store several days later with an appointment and ten minutes later walked out fully connected with a working Q10 of my own. I love this phone; it is the best of both worlds and lightweight very indestructible, an engineering feat. I hope dear readers you won't mind that I will continue to share my adventures with this phone as I move through the mobile world and observe its growth and potential. After all it was an in trusted gift from the BlackBerry evangelist and deserves to be treasured.