Thursday, December 9, 2010
Product was available to sample... the Samsung Galaxy Tab was there, a small compact 7 inch device which was still simple to browse and type on. The light weight device easily could have fit in my purse without me or anyone else being any the wiser. A pic of the device is below.
The Dell Streak was also on display, and grabbed the attention of a few of my fellow tech junkies. One said he was interested in the 5 inch Streak, given its portability, and his interest in simply using it for media on-the-go, and browsing the web.
And the surprise...a demo of RIM's Playbook. Now, as David Neale from RIM clarified to the drooling crowd, this is " professional grade, it's not a toy". Dual core, HD, and multitasking are promised to be present in the upcoming device when the 7 inch device hits the Canadian market in 2011. A shot of the device being demoed is below. Apps are along the bottom of the screen and media is being swiped across the middle of the screen in this shot.
But the best part of the day - it won't lead to cavities...just a lighter wallet once I treat myself to one of each device.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
The Canada New Media Awards proved that last night as Ben Mulroney hosted a jam-packed night that celebrated all things digital in Canada.
Mulroney was joined on stage by some well-known faces to help give out the night's awards, including bad girl chef Nadia G from Bitchin' Kitchen, Josie Dye from Edge 102, and the entire band from Down With Webster was in attendance.
If you missed the awards, the winners can be found on the CNMA Website.
Just a few of the winners were:
BEST MOBILE APPLICATION
2010 Guide - Official Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Mobile Spectator Guide Xomo Digital Inc.
PROMISING NEW COMPANY OF THE YEAR
DIGITAL MEDIA TECHNOLOGY OF THE YEAR
HootSuite HootSuite Media, Inc
Congrats to all the winners!
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
I had a chance to chat with Iain Marlow from the Globe and Mail this week about the media tablet market in Canada and its expected impact on the tech sector. Our Q&A session can be found at the Globe and Mail Website.
- Why or how has Apple succeeded with the iPad?
- You say tablets don't have to be an “iPad killer” to be successful. Can you elaborate on that?
- What lessons can we bring to tablets from the ongoing smart phone wars?
- It's a nascent market, with Apple being an early mover. What do we know about the tablet market so far – who are using the devices, what they are using them for?
- Others, such as Research In Motion and Samsung, have announced their own media tablets.What do you make of these competing products and how do they differ from Apple's?
- What sort of impact do you expect media tablets to have on software vendors?
- What sort of impact do you expect media tablets to have on other device categories?
Thursday, November 4, 2010
I was in Newfoundland checking out the startup scene, and while I was there I tweeted a simple 102 character comment on my iPad:
"In Newfoundland this week checking out the tech start up scene out east - hoping I don't get screeched"
My tweets are synched up with LinkedIn, so faster than you can say "Long may your big jib draw", I had two people reach out to me.
- Contact #1 from Toronto offered to set up a meeting for me with her associate that works out there in NL to tell me about what they're seeing out East in tech
- Contact #2 mentioned he was going to be out East at the same time and offered to meet up
I'm often asked by those outside the industry (and within the industry) if I find value in tools like Twitter and LinkedIn, so here is my response: "Yes". I would not have even thought to reach out to those who reached out to me. The value here was discovering connections and opportunities to connect that I didn't know were available to me or that I'd forgotten about, and thanks to my network on Twitter and LinkedIn, I was able to identify those opportunities in less than an hour...and all I had to do was take 10 seconds to let others know what I was up to through a simple Tweet.
I also think it's worth noting that I tweeted from my iPad. Why? It was faster than booting up my computer and determining if my wireless was going to work that day because half the time it doesn't on my laptop. And I wrote the draft of this blog on the plane on the way home on my iPad, which took up way less space than my laptop or even a netbook would have in my economy size seat, and emailed it to myself as soon as we touched ground with the swipe of a finger. Fast, simple, and created conversation on the flight home with the person next to me.
I'm often asked if all this Tweeting, LinkedIn business and playing with media tablets is time consuming. Used in moderation, it takes up no more time than a quick conversation at the water cooler on my floor, yet my reach through these tools is global, versus the 4th floor of my office building. And if used correctly for business purposes instead of telling everyone what you ate for breakfast, they actually become powerful and targeted information and communication channels that work for you, as they did in this case.
Just remember, tweeting to your 500+ LinkedIn and Twitter network that you're in NL for the first time kinda makes you a target for getting screeched, or so I've heard.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Click here to download the mp3.
Friday, September 24, 2010
Check out some of the highlights captured in Jennifer Kavur's interview with me after the event.
Monday, September 20, 2010
And I did.
No, this is not an episode of Star Trek - its everyday business at InteraXon, where the company is positioning itself to help companies integrate thought controlled computing into their existing products and business plans.
I recently had a chance to chat with Ariel Garten, InteraXon’s CEO. Here's a sneak peak into our conversation.
Q: What is InteraXon all about?
A: The technology is made up of software and hardware that converts brainwaves into digital signals that can be understood by a computer - and ultimately, control anything electronic. The technology does not read your thoughts, but instead, reads the overall electrical pattern activity that accumulates outside your head. Our team of neuroscientists, engineers and designers understand and shape the technology as well as defining and designing intuitive applications of it.
Q: How is the solution being used today?
A: InteraXon was featured at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, where participants could control lights on the Parliament Buildings, the CN Tower and Niagara Falls using only their thoughts. Cameras fixed on the landmarks captured the changes and relayed video back to Vancouver, so users could see the effects of their thoughts in real time.
The applications go further than that though. From a business perspective, the technology could be used for example with patients that have attention deficit disorder to focus their attention and thoughts, with business executives in need of relaxation while on long flights, and with drivers to monitor their alertness while on the road.
Q: What does the future hold for InteraXon?
A: Thought-controlled computing has the potential to become another way that we interact with objects - just like a keyboard, mouse or voice-activation. There are many applications for this technology, and we are receiving many interesting inbound calls from companies eager to learn how they could work with us to leverage thought controlled computing to advance their products and services. One area that we are working actively is in mobile. Stay tuned for some interesting advances in that space, and other markets.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Mobile Innovation Week is taking place Sept. 13-17th in Toronto. But if you're a start up in the mobile space, then Sept. 15 is the day to focus on. That's when MobileBiz Bootcamp is taking place - a full day of mobile insights with over 25 experts from Deloitte, Mobilicity, RIM, QuickPlay Media, BlackBerry Partners Fund, KPMG and IDC. Topics include:
· Top Trends in Mobile
· Capturing the Attention of Industry Analysts (I'll be giving this presentation)
· Finding Success with Mobile Apps
· Going Global with a Wave of Mobile Opportunities
· Money Talks: Who’s Got It? Who’s Getting It?
· Selling Your Company: Insights and Practical Tips
· Breaking into the Corporate Mobile Market
Besides the practical knowledge and networking opportunities, the BootCamp will be offering prizes including free consulting services, free industry expert research and giveaways. Check out more details here.
Then, on Sept. 16 and 17 the focus will shift to mobile media and marketing during Mobile Media World, which will cover:
- Mobile Web & Apps
- Mobile Marketing & Advertising
- Mobile Entertainment & Video
- Mobile Commerce & Payments
- Mobile Search & Augmented Reality
- Mobile Devices & Networks
- Mobile Internet & Consumer Trends
- The Future of Mobile Media
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Picture this: you've just snapped some great pictures on your smartphone and want to share them instantly with friends, colleagues, customers, or with your social networks on Twitter and/or Facebook. What's the fastest and easiest way to do this? Try Burstn them.
Toronto-based Burstn has launched an app that allows iPhone users (and hopefully soon, at least for my sake, BlackBerry and Android users), the ability to share photos in real time without any hassles around uploading or posting them to a website.
I had a chance to chat with Josh Davey and Dave Senior from Burstn recently. Here’s a sneak peak into our chat:
Q: How do you differentiate Burstn?
A: Burstn allows users to share pictures they take on their smartphones in real time. Users can download the app for free on iTunes. Once a picture is taken, it is sent to Burstn.com where they can be shared immediately with friends on Facebook, Twitter, on Burstn.com's live photo feed, or they can just be stored by turning the sharing function off. For those without a smartphone, users can also post pictures directly to the Burstn.com site and link to their social networks from there.
Q: How is the app being used?
A:The application stands to offer value to media companies, event planners and brands that are looking for ways to engage their users and communicate in real time. For example, with Burstn, one event planner used the app to take photos of the event in real time, and post them into a live photo stream that was projected on a wall to show live footage as the event was happening. Attendees were encouraged to take their own pictures as well at the event and share them to the designated photo stream, providing a means for engagement and interaction as the event was happening.
Q: What are your plans for the solution moving forward?
A: We will continue to scale the solution to support BlackBerry and Android very soon, and are looking to ramp up adoption and usage right now through the iPhone app. Mainly consumers are using the solution now, but we are looking to get more companies engaged and trying out the solution, including media (newspapers, online news) that want to allow their readers to contribute photos related to news stories in real time, and digital camera vendors that could benefit from this technology as a way to make digital photos more portable and easier to share.
Friday, July 16, 2010
Most recently, on June 29, 2010, Cisco unveiled the Cius, a mobile collaboration tablet (with a camera and video camera) targeted at business users. But are Canadian businesses ready to embrace this kind of device?
My blog post on itbusiness.ca provides some more detail into the device, and the reaction we might expect to see from Canadian businesses.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Back in May, the government announced a national consultation aimed at building consensus among governments, the private sector, academia and the Canadian public in developing a digital economy strategy for Canada. The public consultation period formally ended this week on July 13, although news and updates will be posted on the Government of Canada website as they become available. The government reports that between May 10 and July 13, more than 2,000 Canadian individuals and organizations registered to share their ideas and submissions.
My full response to Canada's Digital economy strategy can be found on the Government of Canada website. A short overview is below:
"To position Canada for success now and in the future, a connected and integrated digital economy is needed that enables greater two-way communication and transactions. Fast and flexible startups can play a key role in helping Canada achieve that quickly by providing leading edge technology to enable this connectivity, and become engines of growth and job creation themselves. However, they need support — and ideally, that’s part of what Canada’s digital strategy will provide."
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
I had a chance to test out Bitstrips.com and chatted with Shahan Panth from Bitstrips on June 22. Here's a sneak peak into our Q&A:
Q: How is Bitstrips disrupting the market?
A: Bitstrips is designed to be easy to use and provides a wide breadth of visual variety in terms of characters, poses, emotions and backgrounds, letting users create really unique, personalized comics. The Web-based tool is intended to be social, encouraging comic collaboration, sharing, and interaction between users.
Q: How have customers used it?
A: The Ministry of Education in Ontario licensed a special educational version of Bitstrips beginning in September 2009, making it available to any publicly funded school in the Province. Over 25,000 Ontario teachers have now registered their classrooms with Bitstrips for Schools to engage students in reading and writing using comics as the medium in a private and secure virtual classroom. Close to 440,000 students are now using it across over 80% of the Province's schools.
Q: What's next for Bitstrips?
A: While we're looking to expand Bitstrips for Schools beyond Ontario - we already have hundreds of teachers using it around the world - there's also an opportunity to partner or collaborate with major brands on Bitstrips.com, particularly those that are eager to engage audiences with their products in new ways.
Toronto-based Chatroll is looking to address this opportunity with its platform for real-time social interaction. I had a chance to chat with Jonathan McGee and Francis Ma from Chatroll June 21, 2010. Here's a sneak peak into our Q&A:
Q: How do you differentiate Chatroll?
A: Chatroll allows broadcasters to quickly engage large audiences on a PC or a mobile device in real time. It allows the audience members to engage with one another, and the broadcaster, by commenting or asking questions. The conversation remains private (unlike a public forum like Twitter), providing an intimate conversation, but users can still sign in with their social media profiles so that other audience members can find and connect with them. We provide publishers with analytic data and insight around who is participating and where they are located, what kind of conversation is taking place, and topics that are being discussed, giving them powerful information to better engage with and monetize their audience.
Q: How have customers used the solution?
A: Chatroll was used at the Tribeca film festival in Manhattan, where we powered live Q&A, enabling real-time audience interaction in a single, private online space. Chatroll was also used by Joel Osteen, an American best-selling author and senior pastor in Texas. His ministry reaches over seven million broadcast media viewers weekly in over 100 nations around the world. During one of his live broadcasts from Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles, Chatroll was used to expand reach and engagement by enabling live social interaction between thousands of audience members in-attendance at the event and thousands of new, previously untapped online audience members.
Q: What are your plans for the solution moving forward?
A: We will continue to scale the solution to work with new platforms, and are looking for partners who can complement the social experience though video, photos or audio to further enable broadcasters to reach, engage, monetize and analyze their audiences in exciting new ways.
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Interested in hearing more about hot startups in mobile and wireless in Canada? On Friday May 28th, BNN covered some of the important trends and companies to watch in this space. Check out the coverage here.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
I’m often asked at IDC what the coolest technology is that I’m seeing in Canada from tech startups. In the Digital Media space, and in Toronto specifically, a good place to source out hot new digital media technology is at Ryerson's new Digital Media Zone (DMZ), which officially opened on April 7, 2010.
Located on the 5th floor overlooking Yonge-Dundas Square, the DMZ connects Ryerson students, graduates and alumni from different disciplines to take digitally inspired concepts and make them real solutions and marketable products. Ryerson's President Sheldon Levy explained that Ryerson does not take a stake in the technology being developed; instead it provides the space and equipment for students to test and try their ideas in a safe environment supported and funded by the school. The result? Some pretty cool and marketable technology. Examples include:
- Social Buying. TeamSave, a new Toronto start-up, officially launched at the DMZ April 7. TeamSave brings deals from local businesses to local buyers through social media like Facebook, Twitter and mobile applications. The social buying platform is intended to help restaurants and other establishments attract new customers by letting them offer group deals that consumers can purchase together at discounted prices. The company is addressing a hot area of the market, where U.S. competitors such as Groupon have already demonstrated the success of this type of offering in U.S. cities such as Boston, New York and Chicago. Competition is now heating up in Toronto with TeamBuy.ca, which will make for exciting market dynamics.
- Gesture Technology. Jonathan Ingham, a graduate of Radio and Television Arts at Ryerson, founded Phosphorus Media Inc., to market his interactive technologies that are designed to engage audiences. Phosphorus Media is in the business of: gesture recognition technology, image projection, multi-touch technology, 3D holographic imaging, mobile applications, directional sound and a think tank for new media technologies. Jonathan is an authorized reseller of GestureTek, which has technology that projects interactive images on floors or walls that respond to movement, such as the sweep of your shoe or hand, but do not require actual contact (touch). Jonathan's company was subcontracted by GestureTek to develop content and set-up for L'Oréal's product launch this past January, creating a 33 foot interactive runway, dressed up with flowers that models brushed away with the sweep of their feet as they walked down the runway. There are other potential attractive applications of the technology and Phosphorus Media's services as well, particularly store advertising, or displays such as at trade shows.
- Metro Transit Travel Assistant. This context-aware mobile application is designed to help metro passengers with disabilities navigate their way. The app continually updates with new information based on the user's location, and tracks their progress from station to station. Users can get information such as the location of station elevators and other Metro lines; facilities and nearby businesses; updated schedules for connecting trains; and data about services at each station. The sensitivity of the users' microphone increases automatically as users enter busy subway stations, and the app can automatically switch to a text-based variant of the application if connection bandwidth drops. The app got the attention of the Paris Metro system, which will pilot the app at 10 Metro Stations in Paris, France beginning in May. Commuters will be able to download and customize the software for free. The application is designed on top of MUSIC Development Framework which is a European Funded Research Project. An app such as this one holds opportunity not just in subway stations, but in other transit terminals as well, including airports. There’s no shortage of competition in the app space: Handi Mobility’s iPhone app called TransLink that provides schedules for buses, SkyTrain, WestCoast Express and SeaBus in Vancouver; and Fusedlogic's Route 411 app in Toronto and Edmonton are just a few. The greater challenge is working with transit authorities that control how and if third parties can use their transit data.
There was no shortage of talent and interesting technology at the DMZ, but as President Levy pointed out, that's not the biggest challenge. "There's no doubt the talent is as good here in Canada as anywhere else, we just don't want it badly enough."
Providing a place like the DMZ where students from different disciplines can work together, pushing each other every step of the way to test and build superior technology, will definitely help overcome this challenge. Yet, the real value is likely to come from the mentorship, entrepreneurial counseling, funding advice, and industry connections that can be provided through the DMZ to help those students (who want it badly enough) take their cool ideas and initial successes to the next level.
Friday, April 16, 2010
If your answer is no, you have a problem…or at the very least, you will probably have difficulty getting people's attention.
Case in point: "Dragons Den" style events seem to be all the rage these days, providing startups with the opportunity to give quick 5-minute demos. It seems the one thing these events have in common is that most of the companies presenting at them struggle to communicate what they do within the allotted time frame. At one recent Toronto event, after a company had presented for 5-minutes, an angel investor well versed in the tech sector turned to me and said, "I don't get it".
Enter: storytelling. Storytelling can be a particularly effective strategy for smaller tech companies with very technical products or those that customers may not be familiar with, and can provide a quick story to frame the discussion and get prospects to the "Ah-ha" moment faster – especially when time is not on your side.
One great example would be a story I heard from a Canadian startup recently. The founder was giving me a briefing of his new mobile app designed for children, but instead of launching in with tech specs or market size, he opened with this story:
While in a lineup at a store recently, the woman in front of me had a small child with her, who was trying to get her attention while she was speaking with the customer service rep. I turned on the mobile app and gave my BlackBerry to the child, who immediately stopped nagging his mom, sat down, and began to play with the app, allowing his mother to finish her conversation with the sales rep. The mother then turned to me and asked, "what is that game and where can I get it!"
Simple and to the point – it helped answer the key question – why would a parent with a BlackBerry buy this app for their kid?
April Dunford, from Rocket Launch Marketing, echoed the importance of storytelling to a group of tech entrepreneurs at Toronto DemoCamp 26 during her presentation entitled, "Startup Marketing" on March 29, 2010. Dunford's slides can be found here.
It's not rocket science – so why don't more companies leverage stories? Simple. Because it's easy to launch in with the tech specs you're familiar with instead of seeing things from the perspective of someone who knows nothing of your solution.
For startups, or those in a sales and marketing role, the takeaway is simple: find your story that you can use to highlight the value of your offering. No matter how large or small your company is, everyone loves to hear a story, and they can be structured to sound more natural than a sales pitch.
So what makes a kick-ass story?
- Keep it short and sweet. Don't risk losing the audience's interest
- Address a key point. Make sure they story has a defined purpose. If there is confusion in the market around why someone would want your product, make that the focus. If prospects are concerned around security, your story could be structured to address that key issue.
- Keep it fresh. Your story may need to change as the factors in the market and the product itself change.
- Consider the story's reach. Even if you share your story one-on-one with a prospect, it's possible that someone you tell could Tweet or Blog about it (like I'm doing!). Consider if it's a story you feel comfortable having everyone know about...not just the person you mentioned it to behind closed doors.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Bigger isn’t always better – at least that’s how DAVE Wireless sees it.
At the Toronto Board of Trade breakfast on Feb 2, Dave Dobbin gave an insightful and humorous presentation on what to expect from the new carrier when it launches in the spring of 2010 under the consumer name, Mobilicity.
Dobbin admits that as a small player, the company has received its fair share of speculation around how it will succeed in a market surrounded by the National incumbents, and where some have questioned whether the Canadian market is even large enough to support another carrier. In response, Dobbin made a compelling case on Tuesday that outlined how the company plans to position itself for success.
Much of the reasoning Dobbin referred to can be generalized and extended beyond the Canadian wireless sector to any small company that finds itself competing with their own “big boys”. In a single word, the secret to success appears to be “differentiation” and finding a niche where size alone becomes less important. So how does Mobilicity plan succeed in a big boys world? It plans to do the following:
1. Look for untapped opportunities: Instead of targeting all Canadians, Mobilicity plans to target specific groups of customers – one of those being today’s non-cell phone user. According to IDC, about 30 per cent of the Canadian population does not own a mobile phone today, representing an opportunity to increase overall market penetration. Money is being left on the table – it’s a matter of putting the right offer together to bank on it.
2. Address unmet needs: Mobilicity feels it can transform the customer service experience to deliver exceptional customer service, which it sees as an unmet need today. With a simple business model – selling mobile phone service – the company claims it’s customer service will be streamlined and free of multiple departments like cable, TV, and landline, where customer requests and concerns could get lost in what one attendee at the event put as the “black hole of death”.
3. Leverage the expertise of others: Dobbin admitted that the company will not try to do everything itself, and will outsource expertise anywhere it can, notably with Amdocs for state of-the-art billing. Small companies must recognize their strengths as well as their weaknesses, and find partners that can fill in those weaknesses to deliver a strong competitive solution.
4. Keep it scalable by staying focused: How can a little carrier afford to build a national network? Simple – they don’t. Dobbin recognized the company could not profitably build out networks between city corridors, and so, it will focus on large city centers including Toronto, Edmonton, Ottawa, Vancouver, Calgary. In his presentation to a sold out room full of business and technical individuals, Dobbin admitted that the company’s services are probably not well suited to most people in the audience – instead, the service is designed for those who work, live, and play in a single city centre. As a business user who needs roaming capabilities in multiple cities and countries, this is not the service for them, according to Dobbin. The benefit of this laser-like focus means that Mobilicity can tailor and target its marketing dollars on these customers and in these locations. The lesson is simple – as a startup, you probably can’t afford to be all things to all people, so don’t even try.
Startups and smaller companies across Canada would have been inspired had they heard Dobbin’s speech on Tuesday. Clearly, being small does not have to be a disadvantage, as long as you know how to differentiate yourself. A focused strategy that delivers value can be a powerful way to introduce change, and succeed among the big boys.