While executives touted the productivity gains from wireless integration and mobility, most demonstrated streaming video but stressed that applications of such technology should benefit both consumer and business users.
Meanwhile, as vendors introduced the latest in handsets and data-savvy phones, Intel Corp. announced another deal for the WiMax standard, a wireless alternative to wired broadband technologies.
Telling the audience that enterprises need to empower all of their employees with mobility solutions, not just the road warriors, PalmOne Inc. president Ed Colligan introduced the companys latest smart phone, the Treo 650. The $499 model doubles the processor performance and resolution of its color screen over the previous Treo 600 model.
While pointing out the rich-media capabilities of the Treo 650, such as an integrated MP3 player and video-playback capabilities, Palm executives also demonstrated a range of productivity applications for businesses, including the companys new multiprotocol VersaMail 3.0 and a search utility.
Also shown was a forthcoming mobile device management software package from Avocent Corp., which recently acquired Calgary, Alberta-based Sonic Mobility, a maker of remote IT administration software for handhelds.
Called Sonicmobility 5, the software will let IT managers track a range of parameters of mobile devices, including uptime and usage. In a demonstration of the packages security capabilities, the software sent a command to a Treo 650 that wiped e-mail and SMS messages from the device.
Colligan also stressed the importance of a robust Web browser in smart phones. "How often do you use Google?" he asked the audience. To be useful to a wider audience of customers, these devices have "to be able to go anywhere [on the Internet]."
According to Sean Maloney, Intel executive vice president and general manager of the Intel Communications Group, smart phones next year will gain the equivalent processing power and memory performance of a circa-1995 desktop machine. He demonstrated a video on a current handheld and said the company expects to add video acceleration to its handheld processor lines in the next few years.
Maloney was joined by Craig McCaw, chairman of Clearwire Corp., a broadband services provider based in Kirkland, Wash. Intel will fund the company, which will develop and deploy WiMax-based networking.
The Clearwire exec described the companys mission of extending broadband services to areas underserved by current cable or DSL providers. He showed a video on the companys rollout of service to the Jacksonville, Fla., area.
"WiMax will be a complement to Wi-Fi," McCaw said. "Wi-Fi offers an extraordinary experience in a controlled environment. We see an opportunity [with WiMax] to server a broader audience."
Intel is the chief promoter of WiMax and recently shipped its first silicon, code-named Rosedale, to device makers this summer. At the fall Intel Developers Forum here, the company said it will integrate the high-speed wireless technology into notebooks in 2006 and into handsets the following year.