McNealy, Chambers Open CTIA with Grand Visions for Mobility

By Joe Francica

Scott McNealy, President, Chairman and CEO of Sun Microsystems and John Chambers, President and CEO of Cisco Systems provided the keynote addresses to open the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association conference and exhibition in Atlanta, Georgia.

McNealy (at right), who looked for every opportunity to poke jabs at Microsoft's vulnerabilities, touted his SunRay workstations as the alternative to desktop computing.Using a "smart Java card" with encrypted information about a worker's account details, projects, and files, McNealy discussed the benefits of not having information stored locally, and supported this claim by stating that 46% of Sun's employee's do not have an assigned office and 2% do not have an assigned campus at which to work.The Java card is inserted into the SunRay workstation to authenticate the user and the worker's screen looks the same no matter where the workstation is located as well as having immediate access to all of their relevant files and projects.McNealy referred to the card as broadcast model and the user downloads their desktop directly to that specific screen.The SunRay is simply a high resolutions screen with a card reader providing internet access to a server which holds the worker's intellectual capital.As McNealy's puts it, "There's no floppy, no hard disk, no viruses, no Microsoft, no there there."

John Chambers (left) lived up to his reputation as a dynamic speaker and salesperson for networked computing.Speaking extemporaneously while walking through the audience, Chambers believes we are thinking too conservatively with respect to the productivity enhancements that will occur due to increased mobility and access to the internet."The future will be a seamless integration between the wire and wireless environment, said Chambers."

Introductions of each keynote were provided by Steve Largent, former Congressman and Hall of Fame football player, and now the president and CEO of CTIA.During the opening ceremonies, Mr.Largent sat down on stage for a discussion with Federal Communications Commission Chairman, Michael Powell (below left), who exhorted the audience by saying that, "I do believe that the potential in using communications protocols and devices that have computing power will bring together the communications revolution with the computer revolution to create something entirely new.Everybody is looking over everybody else's fence.So, I think that this industry and other industries are going to have to learn to be innovative at the leading edge of data and IP services.I think consumers are excited but confused...At the end of the day, consumers don't buy the hype.They buy what you can do with it and they buy the tools and applications that they can access."

Conspicuous by its absence was the lack of discussion of location-based services by any of the keynotes.Was it merely implied? Are all of these mobile applications simply wrapping location services within enterprise and consumer products? Are we beyond the discussion point of where location fits into mobile products? Or is the industry still trying to build the business case, at least in North America, for location-based services that are in demand and that people and companies will pay for?

In other announcements at the show, Microsoft unveiled the MapPoint Location Server, a platform for a wide range of internet and wireless location services, while Telcontar touted their Mobile Location Server, a direct competitor.Content providers Tele Atlas and NAVTEQ were promoting their partners who are building location services with their street networks and points of interest database, as well as their links to real-time traffic information.

Directions Magazine will present a special issue next week on CTIA to review all of the relevant applications, location platforms, wireless services, and geographical content announcements made this week.

Published Wednesday, March 24th, 2004

Written by Joe Francica

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