Superphonedom: Can You Achieve Mobile Nirvana?

It seems like only yesterday I wrote a post about the telcos being deer in the iPhones headlights — here’s an update: most of the mobile ecosystem now finds itself on that highway …with the superphone bearing down on them at 100 miles an hour.

So wtf is a superphone, I hear you ask?

The operative word is platform. The creative potential of this next generation of hardware is defined by the ecosystem that each respective Superphone vendor’s platform will enable.

When features like touchscreens, browsers, location-sensing technologies and hardware acceleration are programmatically exposed through elegant developer tools, a device is two-thirds of the way to superphonedom. Lastly, add an end-to-end international storefront, and a new medium is born.

So says John SanGiovanni, co-founder at Zumobi. In fact, as a guest poster on GigaOm, he has come up with a list of must have’s for a superphone:

A superphone must have:

Hardware

  • Display with at least 320 pixels on the short axis
  • 3G connectivity or greater (plus additional radios as appropriate…Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, etc.)
  • Location-sensing technology (GPS, high-resolution signal-strength-based location, or equivalent)
  • Hardware-accelerated graphics subsystem

Platform

  • Integrated web browser that supports current desktop development standards
  • Published native developer SDK that allows programmatic access to the specialized hardware/software features listed above.

Distribution

  • Integrated process for certification and searchable catalog distribution of 3rd-party applications.

No surprises, but the iPhone is the current superphone mobile nirvana. On the eve of the launch of the first Android-enabled phone, we are all eagerly awaiting to see if nirvana is attainable by anyone other than Apple, anytime soon…

Streaming The Real-Time Web

The MIT/Stanford Venture Lab hosted a fun session this week on Lifestreaming: The Real-Time Web. MC’d by Kara Swisher, who acknowledged to a somewhat flustered Jeff Clavier that she specializes in cheap shots, the session included Bret Taylor, a Friendfeed co-founder, and Loic Le Meur, Seesmic’s CEO.

The key question for me around the shift to the real-time web is how sites cater to different user tastes — some folks like drinking from the fire hydrant, getting a constant flow of information and responding to the trends, while others like to have the information archived (think of the way posts are represented on a blog) and they access it at their convenience.

I expect we will see a lot of innovation at this coal face to allow for the spectrum of usage.

Kara covers the event and includes some video – here.

The End of Wall Street? Nah, It’s Just Flushing Away Its Detritus

I love Andy Kessler’s writing and highly recommend his book, The End of Medicine: How Silicon Valley (And Naked Mice) Will Reboot Your Doctor.

His no bullshit style shines through in his take on the current Wall Street situation:

So now Wall Street consolidates. Should you care? Not even for an instant. I spent 20+ years on Wall Street, competing against scores and scores of firms, always wondering what they all really did. E.F. Hutton. Shearson, Drexel. Heck, I even worked for PaineWebber in my early days (daze?) on the Street. All gone. And nobody misses them.

The true money-makers all find jobs elsewhere. The worker bees in the middle tier see disruption, but are eventually absorbed into the reconstructed Wall Street. The bottom tier goes to work at Foot Locker.

So no crocodile tears for Lehman or Bear Stearns or anyone else. It’s just a name on the door. Wall Street will soon (hurry up, dammit!) rid themselves of the mad-cow-infested subprime loans and won’t dabble in mortgages ever again or in five years, whichever comes first.

Silicon Valley And The CreditCrunch: Hambrecht Says No Worries

Om Malik has a great session with Bill Hambrecht, tech investment banker extraordinaire, in which they discuss what the current financial fall out means for Silicon Valley and the tech industry.

I was expecting to find him deeply worried; instead he was amazingly optimistic and, most importantly, wholly confident in the Silicon Valley way of life. Disruption will always prevail, he said, despite the current crisis, the rise of China and any of our backward government policies.

“I don’t think it will  have much of an impact on Silicon Valley as an operating entity,” he remarked when I asked him how the current crisis would affect Silicon Valley. “What is going to be interesting is what happens to the underwriting/IPO market.” In other words, fewer underwriters will be focus on tech companies — unless they’re really big, he said. In other words, it’s just like old times, like back when he started H&Q.

You can watch the full interview below:

Web 2.0 Summit: Mindmelding The World Through The Web

I was fortunate enough to attend the first Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco two years ago and got a lot out of the event. I’m very excited by this year’s event, since it has a much grander vision of bringing together a wider sampling of people who are focused on improving the world via the web or web-style innovation.

In an excellent interview that explores the thinking behind the theme for the summit, John Battelle and Tim O’Reilly discuss how the fabric of the Web 2.0 ecosystem is being enriched by a wider focus amongst industry pundits.

I see this as a very healthy and important trend that can lift our collective gaze and avoid industry myopia. I also see it as a fantastic opportunity to apply the Web 2.0 innovation style of rapid iteration to a whole range of previously intractable global issues.

Let me give you an example: we currently live in nationalistic silos imposed by governments delimited by geographical boundaries, yet we operate globally. This is a completely impractical anachronism. By applying Web 2.0 thinking, I am sure we can arrive at a solution that breaks down these artificial barriers. Why can I not have one global passport linked to my DNA or simcard, or both. Why do I need a social security number in the United States and a new driver’s licence for every state in the nation?

I look forward to continuing the conversation to game change the world through Web 2.0 thinking.

TechCrunch5(2) Reductio: “Sell to Google, Never!”

This was definitely drinking-from-the-fire-hydrant week in California for high tech startups. Three days of TC50 demos, parties with Scoble-Mooregate verifying the echo chamber effect is alive and well in both Silicon Valley and Hollywood (if you believe Valleywag, that is) and Jason Calacanis venting steam while still miked up for all on uStream to hear.

As I tweeted yesterday, while the event may have been marred with a few second year mishaps, all in all kudos to the organisers (aka Tyler and his team) for providing an excellent tech showcase.

Two questions emerge – firstly, what will the landscape look like next year. Can Chris Shipley and Calacarrington kiss and make up in time for the first DEMOCrunch event. Or will a professional competitor come in from left field and clean up the space?

Secondly, what was the final set of take outs from the three days. I’m sure we all filtered the event in different ways but for me here are the salient points:

* Product placement as an up and coming business trend ran through the conference as a theme — highlighted by a comment from prolific angel investor, Ron Conway: “it’s a multi billion dollar business emerging right before our eyes”;

* Yossi Vardi once and for all categorized business plans: “as a great sub genre in the science fiction section”;

* Collaborative venture capitalist Peter Thiel defined the holy grail of creating business value: maximizing optionality. He felt that Facebook’s $15bn valuation is justified through the company’s extensible optionality. This is a theme to explore more in the coming months;

* And lastly fellow South African and Sequioa venture guy, Roelof Botha urged startups to “trim down their aperture and focus on key user pain points”.

The rally cry for the event though had to be one startup founder’s response to the question of whether he would sell to Google: “Never!”

DemoCrunch Week: Under Starter’s Orders…

It’s going to be a busy week ahead in California for start up followers what with Demo taking place in San Diego and TechCrunch 50 in San Francisco.

There is bound to be heaps of coverage of both events, but as a starting point Rafe Needleman’s guide is as good a place as any to begin.

Personally I cannot help but think that there are more efficient ways of cutting through the morass than these cattle call-like events. But for now this is the way it is.

Anyone remember the days of Garage’s Kickstart for Startups events? Yeah, it’s all been done before, guys – nothing unique or earth shattering, but have fun out there and try not to squint under the lights!

Extreme Kitesurfing, South African Style

While I’ve ensconced myself in balmy Northern California, the coast of South Africa has been hit by huge storms. It’s been rather surreal catching up on nature’s force from a distance.

Silicon Valley kitesurfers: – eat your hearts out at the following scene…shot at Kommetjie, Cape Town:

[Pic courtesy of Sven ten Bokkel Huinink]