Thoughts on the mobile tech in use at Mobilize 08

Mobilize_logoI have only been back home for a few hours after the whirlwind trip to San Francisco to attend the Mobilize 08 conference.  It was a fun trip that was even more fun as I returned to Houston to a home with electricity working after Hurricane Ike.  Attending the Mobilize 08 conference was especially gratifying to a mobile tech lover as the attendees were all folks with heavy involvement in the mobile sector.  This gave me a good opportunity to observe what tech these folks were using during brief lulls in the action at the conference.

I wasn’t surprised to see many laptops in use throughout the venue of the conference.  It was almost comical at times to see folks using a notebook precariously perched on any flat surface at hand.  I was convinced that one guy’s laptop was going to fall over the edge of a second floor divider and crash resoundingly on the floor below.  Thankfully that didn’t happen.  There were a lot of ThinkPads in use all over the conference which is not surprising given that a lot of the attendees were business folks.  ThinkPads are still in use by a lot of companies and they were everywhere, from super small ones to large 15-inchers.  There were a lot of Macs in use too, I was surprised to see so many everywhere I went.  In years past I don’t think we would have seen so many Macs in a business focused event like Mobilize but they were everywhere too.

One notable observation was how many smartphones I saw in action.  In years past during events like this when a break occurred I’d see a lot of laptops pulled out of bags as attendees checked email and got online to check news.  This event it was more common to see folks pulling their smartphone out to do the same.  I saw a lot of Windows Mobile phones and Blackberries which I expected but I also saw more iPhones than I I thought I would.  I don’t believe I’ve seen as many iPhones in one place as I saw at Mobilize as they were everywhere I went.  No matter what phone was being used during breaks it was impressive to see how many business people are now using them to keep in touch.  It was a common sight to see dozens of people in one place, all tapping away frantically to reply to email during the five minute break.  It makes more sense to do that than to pull a computer out of a bag to do the same and it is clear there has been a shift in the mobile space.

I was expecting to see a few netbooks in the crowd given that Mobilize is the type of conference to attract mobile aficionados but I only saw one the entire day.  That was Kevin’s MSI Wind.  The netbook form factor makes it perfect for quick usage during events like this but I just didn’t see any.  I’m curious if we will see that change as netbooks sales start rising.

My HP 2710P got heavy usage during the conference as I carried it everywhere.  I used it in slate mode to make notes for all of the interviews that I conducted throughout the day and it never failed to impress those who I came in contact with.  As practical as the Tablet PC was for my usage it was not surprising that it was the only one I saw the entire day.  It was clear from the conversations I had with a lot of people who asked about the Tablet that no one knew anything about them.  No marketing = no informed customes = no sales.  Some things never change.