Digital Device Convergence

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Wireless Wonders and Waterfall Watches!
by Mike Banks Valentine

Let's see, I have my pager, my cell phone, my Blackberry,
my Palm Pilot, my laptop, my desktop PC, my e-book reader,
my digital camera and what else? Oh! Then there's the MP3
and the DVD and my local phone company has now gone digital?

Now the laptop can talk with the desktop, but the PDA can
not talk to the laptop. The e-book reader can talk with
the desktop and the MP3 player can talk with the laptop but
not the desktop. The phone company was just purchased by
the cable company with the phone company name and my Black-
berry requires service that can't talk to any of the other
services, or can it?

Welcome to the wonderful world of wireless communications!
What's the hottest prospect for growing businesses in this
gloomy economy? Cross-platform communications enablers. I
can't believe I even uttered those ridiculously tech-y
words! But the near future will be all about getting all of
our computing, our communications and entertainment devices
to talk with each other seamlessly and wirelessly.

One might think this is a massive task with hopeless barriers
to overcome if it weren't for the simple fact that it is
being done by hundreds of companies. Many of them start-ups
and up-starts with an eye on digital convergence until we get
to the magic of that one-single-do-everything-device.

One of my friends once wondered if my digital watch with the
calculator, barometer, altimeter and chronograph had a water-
fall. Clearly, he was poking fun at my love of tech gadgets.
But I've adopted the term "Waterfall Watch" to apply to that
wild dream of the single do-everything-device.

There has been plenty of discussion about those wonderful
Hewlett-Packard television commercials offering us futuristic
visions of unheard-of conveniences such as cars that tell us
they are in need of a visit to the mechanic before they break
down - then call ahead to the nearest garage and arrange a
cab to deliver us to an important scheduled meeting at the
office without missing a beat. If you haven't seen it, visit:

Click on the "View the vision" button and see what is already
possible with existing technology - now, today.

Although I find it fascinating, I hadn't stopped to ponder
how complex this idea is. The car must talk to you, check
your schedule, contact the nearest garage, verify parts
availability, confirm arrival time, call a cab, communicate
your destination, arrange pick-up of the repaired vehicle
and literally dozens of additional steps to complete this
seemingly simple diversion without your participation.

Voice recognition, wireless communication among dozens of
"devices" and scheduling-perfection itself must be present.
Clearly, the complexities are all cast aside in this vision
to illustrate how easy our life might be made soon. Maybe.

The vision is compelling and Hewlett-Packard is quite serious
in promoting the possibilities. They've launched what they're
calling "The Mobile e-Services Bazaar" at

In their own words:

To help fuel the creation of innovative mobile
e-services, HP has established the mobile e-services
bazaar. Combining an online community with a number
of regional centers of innovation, the mobile
e-services bazaar is an eco-system of participants:
application and service providers, mobile operators,
and enterprises who collaborate to fuel the rapid
development of innovative new e-services.

Located around the world, the e-services bazaar is
designed specifically to support the growth of your
e-service business.

This concept is actually an incubator for small business
offering serious clout for participants and networking
opportunities nearly undreamt-of by smaller companies. HP
is on a quest for my "Waterfall Watch" and although I don't
often gush about monstrous corporations, I'll make this one
exception -- and wish them the best of luck and thank them
for supporting the little guy.

WebSite101 "Reading List" Weekly Netrepreneur Tip Sheet
Ezine emphasizing small business online
e-tutorial online at:
By week's end you're ready expand your business to the web!

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July 29, 2001