The Future of Wireless at the Pacific Northwest Wireless Summit

The Pacific Northwest Wireless Summit was the scene of a “future of wireless keynote” on January 19th at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Vancouver. A quorum of industry thought leaders hashed out the best and worst of 2008, and looked forward to 2009. Gerry Chan of the Communication Research Centre said the best idea of 2008 was to ground yourself in technology, and the worst was to not commercialize a good idea

Tony Fish  of AMF Ventures UK said the best thing about 2008 was a revolution in user experience, and the worst was “ringtones.” Thomas Huseby of Seapoint Ventures said the best innovation was the App Store on the iPhone, which he termed as a game changer. Steven Morley (formerly of Qualcomm) said while the iPhone is a great idea that kicked the industry to a new level, it isn’t the end all and be all. The worst, he said, is mobile marketing. “I don’t want people spamming my phone’s inbox,” he said.

Fish said that mobile marketing should be dropped as a term, and what should be used is “engagement.” What he wants, he said, is something that works ubiquitously, so if you’re in a hotel a message unique to you flashes across the TV. In effect, mobile customizes your environment to you. The value, he said, is that advertising has value since people want your attention, and can bater free access to services because of it. Thomas Huseby agreed, and said that the phone should be your control panel for engagement, the guide through the modern media environment.

Morley also said not to repurpose existing marketing, and to instead to address the immersive, unique aspects of the phone. Think of how the human mind interacts with the phone as opposed to movies or TV, and craft your marketing around that, he said.

Anthony Lacavera of Globalive Communications pointed to his own company as a different company, since they’ve invited Canadians to input their opinions on and plan to keep that openness as a new wireless company, unlike the traditionally closed and hidebound Canadian wireless community.

Fish also pointed out that privacy concerns are best expressed through “privacy is dead.” The new generation doesn’t care about privacy, he said, so it will become less of a concern as time goes on.