Startups giving their pitches at the DEMO conference.
SAN DIEGO — The DEMO conference kicked off here today with a pitch by executive producer Chris Shipley that the Internet industry is entering a new phase. You might even say it’s now at the edge of the Fifth Dimension.
The original “flat” Web was about displaying information, or brochure-ware as the term went in the early days of the Web. Transactions (eBay, Amazon, etc.) helped define the dawn of the term Web 2.0. She then positioned Facebook and the social networking phenomena as the third generation of the Web, an interactive trend that shifted power from site owners to users.
That interactive phase is generally thought of as Web 2.0, but Shipley chose to break out the Transactional and Social Web to call them the second and third key phases of Web development. And now, we’re in phase four, the Distributed Web. “The takeaway is that the tech market is moving into a new cycle,” said Shipley.
Shipley argued that while Facebook, MySpace and other social network sites are used by millions, it’s not a mass market technology. “The Social Web has yet to break out of the echo chamber,” said Shipley. She said issues like a lack of transparency and trust, more choices and ease of use are keeping the Social Web from being even more popular and widespread than it already is.
“In the next phase, the barriers come down,” said Shipley. She predicted The Distributed Web is about syndication and distribution that reaches a far greater audience in a personalized way than today’s services.
Examples of the distributed content trend? Take the rise of Saas
Kindle meets MacBook Air?
One company’s pitch to the conference today could help make Shipley’s case. When mulling what Plastic Logic does, think [Amazon’s eBook reader] Kindle meets MacBook Air. “You’ve seen Kindle really open the consumer marketplace, but it’s really focused on recreational reading,” said Richard Archuleta, CEO of Plastic Logic. “This is for business reading.”
The Plastic Logic Reader is the first product from the company, which is developing chips that use plastic instead of silicon. The flexible Reader is about the size of an 8 1/2 by 11 paper notepad, weighing just a few ounces.
In his demo, Archuleta showed a range of business documents on the Reader, which is also a touch screen for a simple, gesture-based navigation. File formats including Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint, and Adobe PDFs are supported, as well as newspapers, periodicals and books. Users can connect to information wired or wirelessly. The company said “thousands of documents” can be stored on the device and it has long battery lift.
Archuleta said the Reader is about a third the weight of the Macbook Air, features instant-on and is readable indoors or outside. “The brighter the better,” he said.
A company from Taiwan called Awind got the crowd’s attention with mobiShow, a book-sized hardware device that lets you use a cell phone to give presentations via Wifi. In its demonstration, Awind showed how the mobiShow can stream a presentation, wirelessly, or an IP-based video for that matter, to a big screen with a range of transition effects typical of a Powerpoint presentation. The technology can also sharpen the image from what appears on the cellphone display to high definition on a big screen.
We can bring anything you want to a TV screen,” said Richard Chen, program manager of Awind, who claimed that it’s a much more effective way to access and manage video than Apples TV, for example. And yes, he said, mobiShow will work with the iPhone.
No word on when it’s coming to the U.S. market, or price. Chen did say the company is opening up the software to developer and Web designers to further tap its potential.
Making your DVDs more accessible
While there are traditionally plenty of startups at DEMO, established companies are part of the mix with new product offerings. RealNetworks debuted RealDVD, an application designed to let consumers legally store their favorite DVDs on a PC.
“We think this is the best way to play DVDs and save them to your laptop,” said RealNetworks CEO and founder Rob Glaser.
RealDVD, $29.95, due out later this fall, organizes your DVDs for different views, such as by cover art or quick access by title, actor name and other criteria. There are three options when loaded: you can simply play a DVD, play and store it with no impact on performance, or simply store it on your computer for later viewing.
But for all the Web 2.0 features it sports, some old fashioned, Web 1.0 features endure as well: The device comes equipped with parental controls.