The "4th generation" of the net, as exemplified by the current tech trends:
1) at the fringe -
along with a total avoidance of real time data acquisition.
(but note that iPhone is saddly missing).
Best of TechCrucgh50
Ventures in mobile computing and platform tools highlighted the TechCrunch50 2008 conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, with companies airing products ranging from a cross-platform environment for mobile systems to a next-generation text input technology.
TechCrunch50 has featured startups presenting their wares to the audience and panels of experts drawn from the entrepreneurial and investor realms. Among the panelists Tuesday was Mark Cuban, a technology entrepreneur perhaps best known as the outspoken owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team and a former contestant on the Dancing with the Stars TV show.
[ See the related story, "Startups pitch new tools for business." And for all the news from Demo Fall 2008 and TechCrunch50, check out InfoWorld's special report. ]
Projects detailed included Mytopia, which provides a cross-platform environment for Web and mobile systems. While the demonstration of Mytopia featured an online poker game functioning across multiple devices and a PC desktop, it also can be leveraged for all rich media applications, said Guy Ben-Atzi, CEO of Mytopia.
Using the company's RUGS (Real Time Universal Gaming System) framework, developers can code applications one time and automatically compile native builds for key Smartphone and mobile operating systems, including BlackBerry, Apple iPhone, and PalmOS. "RUGS is a rich content authoring environment and it starts with a developer who uses a customized Eclipse-based IDE. RUGS is going to ensure that content is going to be created in what we call a RUGS-compliant fashion," for cross-platform translation, Ben-Atzi said.
Swype presented its text input technology at the conference. Using either a stylus or a finger, users can quickly input words onto a screen. It is designed to work across devices such as phones, tablets, game consoles, and virtual screens. "Swype is the text input [technology] for the 21st century," said CEO Mike McSherry. Users can write 50 words per minute and multiple languages are supported, he said. McSherry asked screen designers and builders to talk to the company if they thought the technology would be applicable.
A cross-section of collaborative apps
Dropbox showed its technology for storing and sharing files in the cloud. Online sync, sharing, and backup are combined into a single interface. Files in the Dropbox folder are synchronized between computers and securely backed up online. Folders can be shared with others. The company announced Linux backing for the product Tuesday.
Devunity touted its cloud-based collaborative coding platform for developers, uniting programmers from around the world. "You don't have to mess with versioning. You can see what everybody's doing in real time," said Alon Carmel, CEO at Devunity.
Other technologies covered on Tuesday were in the collaborative and finance and statistics spaces. Sometimes, panelists offered sharp rebukes, such as Cuban's assessment of ImindI, which proposed a service to help like-minded thinkers connect on the Web. The service features a thought engine and artificial intelligence. The monetization plan involves rich contextual advertising.
"Maybe I'm missing something, but that just sounded like the biggest bunch of bull I've ever heard in my life," Cuban said. "I don’t get what the return is for making the investment in time" to use the application, he said. IMindi CEO Adam Lindemann defended the project as seeking to connect information to thoughts.
Panelists gave a thumbs-up to iCharts, which provides a platform for online charting. "I think it's a very interesting idea, maybe because I spend too many hours slaving over Excel," said panelist Roelof Botha, a partner at Sequoia Capital. "Anytime you can make something simple and easy, you've got a winner," said panelist Don Dodge, of Microsoft. "ICharts is your YouTube for interactive charts," said Seymour Duncker, CEO of iCharts.
Also presenting Tuesday was Tingz, which offers tools and services to gather Web content and distribute it to digital devices and social networks. Cross-platform, shareable widgets are featured. Applications are enabled such as browsing of movie listings.
Another presenter, Emerginvest, analyzes emerging financial markets with its application. And products for managing e-mail were shown both on Monday and Tuesday.
Proposed cures for e-mail overload
On Monday, the TechCrunch crowd heard from Joshua Baer, CEO of OtherInbox, which provides a service intended as a cure for e-mail overload. The platform offers a free e-mail account that organizes newsletters, social networking updates, coupons, and receipts from online purchases. Users can find the most interesting items and ignore the rest. OtherInbox helps e-commerce vendors send more targeted, relevant e-mails, Baer said.
Tuesday's e-mail technology presentation featured Postbox, a desktop e-mail application geared to help users spend less time managing e-mail. Cataloging everything in e-mail from text to Web links and pictures, Postbox provides a searchable platform and displays messages by topic. Postbox connects to content from any e-mail account, said Sherman Dickman, a founder of Postbox.