March 2, 2009
BluBuzz was another head-scratcher, though partly that was just the deer-in-the-headlights presentation. The company provides custom hardware that allows businesses to broadcast marketing messages to mobile devices over the Bluetooth networking protocol. It's targeting the real estate businesses, sports, and restaurants as possible industry verticals.
The company's founder insists that its messages are respectful and not intrusive. While there may be a group of mobile phone users just dying to get pitches from nearby businesses, what's more likely is that businesses broadcasting pitches over Bluetooth will find that they're replacing their windows more frequently because of the rising number of hurled mobile phones. Asurion offered a more compelling pitch. The company makes what it calls the Asurion Mobile AddressBook, an open, contact-based widget platform. It focuses on the contact as the organizing principle for communication rather than on the application, an approach proven by social networks. As a platform, however, it faces the challenge of winning over developers, a task that gets harder and harder every year as Google, Apple, Microsoft, and other mobile device makers try to exercise more control. It could succeed, but winning over developers and users will be a tough challenge. And finally, there was Skout's Skout Out, a dating kiosk that provides the phoneless and phone-challenged with access to the Skout online location-based dating service. It allows users to interact with a nearby Skout user by flirting or by sending a virtual gift or sharing a song, both of which can be paid for by inserting a real credit card into the Skout Out device. After a few drinks, the absurdity of kiosk-based dating probably seems like genius. Bars that find a place for Skout Out machines will want to clean the touch screens frequently.
The number of enterprises deploying smartphones will grow rapidly over the next few years, but it's important to have a clear strategy for managing and securing these devices. InformationWeek addressed this issue in an independent report, and it can be downloaded here (registration required).
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