Infrastructure // PC & Servers
Commentary
12/18/2006
04:35 PM
David  DeJean
David DeJean
Commentary
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Sony's mylo, Like Youth, Is Wasted On The Young

Sony's mylo is a big helping of gotta-have-it rolled up in a very small package: WiFi phone, email-IM-text-messaging-Web-browsing with a full keyboard, and even an MP3 player. Sony is marketing the mylo to the youth market, which leaves the impression that the mylo is just a toy. It's not. It's got some serious mobility features for grown-ups, too.

Sony's mylo is a big helping of gotta-have-it rolled up in a very small package: WiFi phone, email-IM-text-messaging-Web-browsing with a full keyboard, and even an MP3 player. Sony is marketing the mylo to the youth market, which leaves the impression that the mylo is just a toy. It's not. It's got some serious mobility features for grown-ups, too.I wrote up the mylo for the annual Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide, but in 132 words about all I could say was, "It's cool." It is indeed cool, but it's more than that. I've been fascinated with VoIP, and I've handled a few VoIP phones. But nothing I've seen is as thoughtfully designed and as fully featured as the mylo.

Maybe it's because it comes from Sony, but the mylo gives me that same feel of holding tomorrow in my hand that the first Sony Walkman did more than 20 years ago.

The thing that impresses me most about the mylo is that it's the first hardware device I've seen for the social Web. That's what has marked it as a toy, I guess -- the Myspace-YouTube-constantly IMing crowd so far has not exactly been top-heavy with CEOs and MBAs. But the social Web will come to the corporate world, and the mylo, or something like it, will become a capitalist tool.

IM has already proved its value as a business/productivity tool, and you don't have to play with VoIP for long to realize how it shrinks down the infrastructure required for voice communications -- and thus the cost.

But video? I'm not exactly a kid anymore myself. I came into personal computing when it was all about productivity. I understood the value of e-mail and file attachments early on. The value of audio and video have taken longer, but I'm learning to appreciate them. It's still harder to produce a podcast than a Word document, and shooting and editing a video is still something that you wouldn't want to leave in the hands of amateurs. But working on the holiday gift guide was something of an eye-opener. Videos are cool. They're fun to watch. They have impact -- even on little screens like the mylo's 2.4-inch diagonal. And that means that videos, like MP3 files before them, will become part of the stock in trade of business communications as businesses find ways to make and distribute video about things besides Mentos and treadmill choreography.

The thing that makes the mylo a toy today is that the things it is designed to do (play audio and video, browse the Web, do instant messaging) are what kids are doing. And they're doing them because they're fun. They're social. CEOs and MBAs and old technology bloggers like me don't get it. Our first reaction to things like Facebook and NowThen is usually, "That's a waste of time." At $350, a gizmo like the mylo can seem like a waste of money as well as time. But when the kids come to work in our companies, they bring the social Web with them. And when we discover podcasts are a great way to make better use of time on the train we buy iPods, too. The mylo ratchets all of that up a notch. As wireless infrastructure grows up in the workplace, the mylo will grow up with it.

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