Monthly Archives: February 2012

Mobile World Congress 2012: What to Expect

Once again I’m on the sidelines for Mobile World Congress. It may be better this way, though. From here in Seattle, I’ll get a broader perspective on what’s happening, seeing the news unfold in greater context since I’ll have the benefit of watching it all bubble up from a distance. That said, I’m reliant upon many friends that have feet on the ground, who will get both first looks and hands on experiences. If you’re looking for a play-by-play, follow RemotelyMobile.

For my friends that don’t have the slightest idea what Mobile World Congress is, it’s the place where all the mobile thinkers and doers come to influence, strike deals and play. From network operators and carriers to device makers and app developers, the mobile industry is descending upon Barcelona today for the event, which opens on Feb. 27th, attracting more than 60,000 attendees, including roughly 12,000 developers, 3,000 industry CEOs from 130 countries and over 1,500 media outlets.

So, it’s sort of a big deal, and it’s where an amazing number of business deals are born. It isn’t just about quad-core phones, 4G networks, and other mobile devices. It’s also about supporting consumers with apps, software, and the cloud that keep us mere mortals connected.

With the theme “Redefining Mobile,” I’m expecting to see a gazillion new ways to use mobile devices to interact with other devices and streamline consumer experiences.

More Devices Face Off with Apple: Be it internet-connected phones, tablets or PCs, device makers will come out of the woodwork to try and take down Apple. Frankly, it’s a monumental task. Apple has had the market cornered on devices, but new tech innovations, more powerful components and new pricing models will give other vendors the opportunity to give Apple a run for the money this year. In fact, Apple shares have eroded with the introduction of Amazon’s Kindle Fire, Nokia’s Lumia and the coming Windows 8 devices, not to mention how well Samsung has penetrated its marketshare. You can bet Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Samsung to make considerable investments in this years’ MWC, priming the market for some very exciting devices expected to ship later this year.

Smart Devices:  For years we’ve been inching closer to the promise of connected experiences across devices, and we saw a big jump forward at CES 2012 where smartphones acted as controllers for a variety of other devices: Smart TVs, home security, garage doors and even refrigerators. We’ll see even more of these scenarios at MWC. Innovative connected devices will be unveiled in Barcelona to manage and monitor your home or to consume an explosion of digital content.

Connected Vehicles: Wait…what? Yes, vehicles are becoming the latest “devices” to invest in these big technology shows. Ford, for instance, had a big showing at CES 2012 in January showing off its latest in-dash technology, SYNC, developed in partnership with Microsoft. Expect to see Ford and others at MWC again, sporting their play for the connected consumer’s mindshare with technology that strikes the right balance of safety, convenience and infotainment.

Advanced Apps: Technology innovations centered on faster processers, faster connection speeds and small but mighty devices are all culminating to advance a new class of applications that are delivering on the connected experiences dream. Mobile apps for shopping, media, healthcare and mobile in the enterprise are increasing efficiencies and improving productivity. Whether a client app or cloud app, MWC will be a breeding ground for app developers and startups looking for a break to get noticed. Though harder to find these gems, this is the part that really excites me, and I’ll be watching the folks like Venture Beat and others who are looking for the same gems

Infrastructure Advancements: The explosion of data driven by the use of our mobile devices has put a significant strain on the networks and infrastructures to support our increasingly mobile lifestyles. I would expect to see a number of announcements at Mobile World Congress from mobile networks and carriers to address the volume of streaming video, high-res images and documents that we share on a daily basis to stay connected and to keep the networks from breaking down.

Windows 8: Last but not least, we should expect some noise from Microsoft. Though no keynote this year, Microsoft is expected to offer the first Windows 8 consumer preview, which is likely to build a lot of excitement for the range of devices Windows 8 will support when it ships. Microsoft’s decision to preview Windows 8 at Mobile World Congress is a signal revealing how important mobility is to the Windows franchise, and we’re as likely to see Intel-based Ultrabook PCs as we are Windows 8 tablets running on ARM. Of course, we’ll see a range of Windows Phones, as well—notably Nokia phones and if we’re lucky the next version of Windows Phones, dubbed Tango, which will run on low-end devices, expanding its footprint into emerging markets.

This is just scraping the surface. We’ve been hearing industry buzz about Android, LG, HTC, Nokia, Samsung, Sony and many other device makers on what they’ll do for weeks. New tablets, new pones, new apps—there all expected at Mobile World Congress next week. But if you’re looking for a rundown of what specific devices will be unveiled, check out Engadget for a comprehensive list.

What are you most excited about?

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PC Giveaway! Lenovo IdeaPad U300s

Ultraportable/Mainstream/Everyday: Lenovo U300s (courtesy Microsoft)

My friends at Techlicious and Intel are teaming up to give away a beautiful new Lenovo IdeaPad U300S Ultrabook.

I drooled over several skinny Ultrabooks just before the holidays and showed them off in a slideshow, and one of those new PCs was the Lenovo IdeaPad U300S. Ultrabooks are the new class of thin and light PCs, measuring 21mm thick, get five-plus hours of battery life and use Intel’s powerful Core i-series processor (i3, i5 or i7) and power up instantly from sleep. The great thing about these powerful new PCs is that they’re all less than $1000.

If you’re on the go like most moms, need something thin and light and stylish to slide into your bag or briefcase, an Ultrabook might just be the perfect PC.

Details and rules can be found here, but enter through February 24th, 2012 for a chance to win. Good luck!!

 

Pinterest: Mindless Inspiration for the Overwhelmed

My biggest complaint in the last two years? I don’t have enough time in the day. Like most moms, from the moment my eyes open (usually with a toddler staring back at me six inches from my nose) to the moment they close again for the night, I am in constant motion.

My husband and I scramble in the morning to get the kids fed, ourselves ready for work and kids dressed for school. I race through traffic to get into the office. My brain is on overdrive as soon as I sit down with my PC, rumaging through email and writing my first narrative of the day. I run from meeting to meeting not even stopping for lunch. And I rush out the door a few minutes before 5:00p to start the commute back home, picking up the boys from daycare/preschool along the way. I walk in the house and immediately whip something up for dinner, check my work email with a full tummy and then march upstairs with the boys to start bedtime routine (brushing teeth and reading books and sing Somewhere Over the Rainbow for the thousandth time). At 9:00p, I sit down to finish up a few work projects and then it happens. My brain finally shuts down. The only thing left to do is surf, and I start and end with Pinterest.

As if I had time to spend hours sitting, exploring images of often beautiful and sometimes rediculous furniture, gadgets, art/crafts, recipes and awesome places to visit, I do it. Mindless inspiration.

Here’s how it works: Users create digital “pinboards” and fill them with photos from around the web of the things they care about. They can follow other pinboards and users, and “repin” items that speak to them. Using the “Pin-It” gadget you install on a browser toolbar, users add to their boards from anywhere, saving us from uploading an image to a photo-sharing service. And the browser experience is ideal for the small attention spans of web readers (uh, that’s me!) — almost no text, almost all pictures.

Remodeling a home or looking for great finds, this site is ideal for keeping track of things you want to revisit. I use it for capturing images of kitchens, baths and furniture I love in preparation for the updates we’re planning for our home. I also use it as a wish list for my favorite gadgets, ideas for fun with the boys and saving recipes for the day when I might be adventurous. I even have a board that captures nothing but color palettes that I love.

Here are a few important tips:

  • Name your boards: Categorize each board that you create in your space so that you’re able to group similar objects and find them easily. I have a category for home inspiration, one for gadgets, one for food, one for the kids, etc.
  • Hyperlink the images: If you ever want to get details about your images again, hyperlink it…or at least include a link in your description. I didn’t do that when I started, and now I can’t remember where I found the link…to buy!
  • Make notes: Give the images a caption that will remind you what you liked about the image. Love the color? Inspired by the overall look? Just say so.
  • Follow people: This easy little app not only connects you to the things you care about, but it also connects you to the people you care about.
  • Show who you are: The thing I love the most about Pinterest is that I can express who I am visually. If you follow people, you can get a really good sense for who they are, too.
  • Add a time limit: There are so many cool things to look at, that it can literally suck hours of your time. Don’t let it.

Though I have only been using it for my personal pleasure, there are some interesting and fun ways to use it to promote your business, too. Though still in its infancy, I can imagine some pretty creative marketing directors will find fun ways to link it to and/or be the center of brand campaigns. Can’t wait to see what these smart people will do with it

And, if you like Pinterest, you may also enjoy Houzz.com, a digital scrapbook for your home decorating inspiration. The user experience on this site is really, really good.

I really don’t have any extra time in my day to do anything but work and take care of the boys. Yet, I keep finding myself drawn to both of these sites at the end of my days, relaxed and feeling good. So what if the laundry continues to pile up!

Do you have a mindless inspiration site to share? I want to hear about how you recharge your batteries in the comments below.

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