Picking platform plays as demonstrators at shows such as Demo can be a two-edged sword. Unless they can be linked visibly to obvious user benefits, theey're often too subtle to go over well with an audience.
And platform software could well have been the underlying percussive beat that drove Demo Fall 2010.
One of the platform demonstrators that set a new high bar at Demo was Dynamics’ Card 2.0, which I believe was the most significant launch I’ve seen at Demo since Jeff Hawkins premiered the original Palm Pilot in the early 1990’s.
Dynamics Card 2.0 is based on a card programmable magnetic stripe and is a “smart” card that will work with existing card readers. What I love about Dynamics technologies is simple: I can turn the card on or off or invoke functions with a few simple keystrokes on the face of the card and it has an integrated display that can be used to show balances on gift cards. But most importantly, unlike many so-called disruptive technologies, Dynamics’ Card 2.0 works with the existing infrastructure. Also, unlike many of the the next-generation smart cards I saw in my time before Demo’s mast, Card 2.0 is both thin and extremely rugged. Furthermore, because of built in safeguards, such as requirements to turn this device on and enter a numeric pass cade, I am cojmpetely satisfied with the safety of my financial information and account access.
I also like this company because of the work it put into its product design. Card 2.0 is
Jeff Mullen Dynamics’ CEO flat out nailed his demonstration. After watching his on-stage pitch, I went back and reviewed my notes. Sure enough he had answered every follow-up question I had noted.
Dynamics’ Card 2.0 was awarded Demo Fall’s Peoples’ Choice Award. My advice to any company prepping for a future spot at Demo—including pitching Matt Marshall-- is to look at the video of Jeff Mullen’s on stage Demo and use it as a template. It was simply one of the best I’ve ever seen.
Copia Interactive may be one of the best forward positioned products and platforms I’ve seen at Demo in the last several years. Copia is both a social media application and platform. Copia is also a great example of aiming a product at a convergence of technologies. What I love about Copia’s technology is that it taps into the turbulent force of social media and provides its users with the ability to create and manage ad hoc interest groups while maintaining control over what’s publicly shown.
Copia scored pints with me through its demonstration in an Apple iPad slate computer.
I went to Demo anxiously hoping I’d find even more reasons to devote the remainder of my 2010 “gadget budget” to the purchase of a slate compute. Copia may have pushed my decision forward while convincing me that screen real estate and the availability of a good external keyboard will be an important part of my purchase decision.
The basics of Copia’s capabilities are somewhat available now on shared social media platforms like Google Books, Facebook and other web-based services. What Copia has done is provide a platform and an application that synchronizes content in discussion and special interest that lets me pick out what I have in common with members of discussions and keep public and private notes on such conversations. And it also supports multiple views of conversations.
Over the years, I’ve been openly critical of technology companies that try to tap into the entertainment industry without investing in the intellectual capital that drives the segment.
Two minutes into a conversation with this demonstrator in the pavilion and I said to myself “Aha! They get Hollywood and New York Media!” Copia was shown running on Apple iPads, Windows 7 computers but its developers make the point they’re platform agnostic but dedicated to the e-reader platform. The agnosticism that marks this platform should help any publishing partner that wants to incorporate social media as a strategic component to its long-term marketing plans. What I see in Copra is a platform that fundamentally binds users to brands and products at a grassroots level.
A small UK-based start-up at Demo Fall 2010 called MobiCart, demonstrated a technology that I think goes a long way in helping to deliver on the promises of making it much easier for retailers of all sizes to sell products online. MobiCart art does something that’s not really been done before: it allows retailers to to set up e-commerce sites that reflect not only their unique inventories, but also their individual brands. And it does this with less hassle than any other product I’ve ever seen.
MobiCart is an iPhone app. When used by consumers, it supports normal shopping cart functions and allows users to shop using one of several views.
MobiCart launches at a critical time. Companies such as Visa have recently announced their intentions to bring ecommerce to smart phones, at the time as geo-location based shopping site and applications are flourishing. This small company’s technology benefits from being at the right place at the right time, but the developer isn’t blind to the reality of the US market and told me in the pavilion they were indeed looking beyond the confines of the iPhone and thinking about readying versions for Android-based handsets.
But, while geolocation based shopping is growing, what’s been missing are simple toold that close the chasm between retailers and consumers. MobiCart bridges this chasm.
My enduring post event thought about this company is that I hope it catches the attention of platform managers at either Visa or Intuit, both of which could use MobiCart as a foundation product for mobile commerce platforms.
I’m still thinking about a couple of other companies I saw at Demo Fall 2010 and my reaction to the show and its new venue in the heart of Silicon Valley. But that’s stuff for another post. Jim Forbes on 09/22/2010.