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Bonnie Sutton

A New Yorker travels South (by Southwest) - 1 views

25 billion downloads Apple applications Apps Store arqball Austin Borglar broadband Highlight hotspots human innovation mobile NewsiT red bull Space Dog Books start up village sxsw WeVideo zamp

started by Bonnie Sutton on 16 Mar 12
  • Bonnie Sutton
    A New Yorker travels South (by Southwest)

    I made my first trip to South by Southwest (SXSW
    ) this week and I enjoyed it. If you have any doubt about the innovative spirit or entrepreneurial energy of America's youth, travel to Austin next March. It was a joy to be around so many driven young people. The young men and women camped out at the Convention Center and at "Start-Up Village" at the Hilton seemed to be fueled not just by Red Bull but by idealism and the hope that they were creating something unique, lasting and important.

    SXSW began almost 30 years ago as a casual music festival for country and alternative rock fans. Today, it is a curious combination of technology and culture. For the first three days SXSW focuses on film; then there are the four "Interactive" (or technology) days. And the Festival concludes (or peaks) with a music festival. In addition, on the first weekend of the Festival you also can attend "Screenburn" a video gaming bacchanalia that brings out gaming fans from nine to ninety. It was great to experience each of these somewhat disparate disciplines and talk to the fans and creators of new products.

    One of the most interesting observations about the conference was the importance of mobility and wireless broadband. Mobile devices and applications were center stage at every venue and much of the innovation centered on the possibilities that mobile technology provides. In fact, the biggest controversy at the Festival, the use of homeless people as mobile broadband providers or hotspots, also centered on mobile technology. As objectionable as the homeless hotspot project was, it did serve to underscore the almost insatiable appetite of Festival attendees for mobile bandwidth.

    There was an equally insatiable appetite for new and novel applications. As several attendees noted, one of the most common questions during the Festival was: "So, what's the coolest app you saw this week?" Some of the most interesting apps I saw or read about this week were: Zamp (an app any frequent flyer would love); Voxio, (a communications (VOIP) app that is very easy to use); and, to feed your inner artist, Arqball Spin. NewsiT and WeVideo allow you to share news items and video with their new apps. Highlight is a new social/location app that received a lot of buzz, and it will be interesting to see how and whether consumers embrace it. My personal favorites were Space Dog Books, bringing a new artistic twist to children's books and Borglar, a location based augmented reality game that I believe has significant potential for business and other commercial uses.

    All of these applications perform best on broadband networks and are data intensive. That's why it's not surprising to note that Cisco predicts that global mobile traffic will increase 18 fold between 2011 and 2016. That's based on current assumptions and existing trends. I recall that four years ago none of us knew what an app was and no one had downloaded the first app for their smart phone. Apple alone has 1 million Apps in its Apps Store and, just last week, celebrated the download of the 25 billionth app from that App Store. That's Billions with a B, folks. In just four years.

    No one knows definitively how many more apps will be downloaded over how many smart phones and tablets in coming months and years. It's pretty clear, however, that the intense and innovative young men and women who traveled to Austin this weekend will be back again next year with more ideas that we all are going to adopt. It's going to take a lot of effort to ensure that, without resorting to human hotspots, we will have sufficient bandwidth to take full advantage of their innovation and their ingenuity.

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