3GSM Diary: CEO egos, Motorola's smorgasbord and camera phone as scanner

Day 2
Written by Tony Hallett, Contributor

Day 2

The Tuesday of 3GSM week brings with it one of the most packed conference schedules you can imagine. It's tough because it's hard to fit in everything you would like. Egos and simple logistics dictate that you're going to get people speaking or holding press conferences at the same time.

The upside is that you get together people from all sorts of interesting companies with the CEOs of the likes of Microsoft, Nokia, Qualcomm, RIM and Vodafone - though in the case of the latter it'll be the 'CEO in waiting' who's front and centre.

Speaking of Nokia, silicon.com wrote about their announcements yesterday, and our reporter on the scene duly noted the bigger news, namely that their head of mobile phones looks like the lead singer of Franz Ferdinand. (That's the band, as you'd hope 'lead singer' gives away, rather than the arch duke whose fate kicked off WWI.)

And as if a cue to stay on the subject of silly look-a-likes, it has to be said that from a distance Motorola CEO Ed Zander looks something like Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi. In fact, at an impressive press conference on Monday afternoon, Motorola presented some fluff but also a lot of substance.

We've written about the Razr-isation of their handset range but in general the company has a good line on its positioning in several areas of communications, from handsets, to core networks, to home networking. It calls it all 'seamless mobility'. (Yes, you'd be right in thinking other companies use the word 'seamless' a lot too.)

We noted Motorola bundling together 17 announcements (go ahead, count them). Technologies were covered (HSDPA, Bluetooth, IMS, WiMax), alliances (with Microsoft for music, Yahoo! for mobile podcasting), developments in the developing world and of course mobile TV, in the form of progress with DVB-H. Forgive us for not being exhaustive in our list.

We also counted our correspondent on the scene almost falling off his chair. This wasn't because of tiredness or Zander summoning someone called JC to the stage to help with demos (and who is one of the people Berlusconi has recently been comparing himself to?) but rather because of ridiculous bar-style stools, for the assembled masses of hacks. Highly impractical. And Foo Fighters as the big, kick-off number? Too trendy by half.

But while Motorola and Nokia can fill grand rooms with hundreds of the world's media, it should be noted there are also plenty of interesting smaller players at the 3GSM show with some great offerings.

Take RealEyes3D. They are a small, Paris-based company that has latched on to just how prevalent the camera phone has become (360 million phones with cameras to be sold this year, no less) and thought up a business application. Take a picture of a page or whiteboard and RealEyes3D's clever algorithms will strip out unnecessary background detail and dodgy shadows/glare and save the notes.

On the enterprise side, today the company announces a version of the software, to sell to enterprises via network operators, that allows whole pages of text to be 'scanned' in this way, saved online and sent. NTT DoCoMo in Japan has signed up on the operator side.

Sure, you're going to need a decent phone ("The Nokia N90 is fabulous for this," CEO Benoit Bergeret tells me - even if most other handsets aren't yet) and you have to want to capture physical documents in the first place but VCs are betting their money on this sort of thing.

In other news, Virgin Mobile is set on Tuesday to announce it is first in the UK with a commercial mobile TV service. It has worked with BT, choosing a 'third way' technology, rather than one of the big two - DVB-H or MediaFLO.

We're looking forward to hearing Steve Ballmer present to an audience and industry Microsoft has yet to crack - especially in light of yesterday's big mobile instant messaging group hug announcement from the big European operators.

And can anyone tell us why Intel has a man walking around the show in what seems to be an outfit from the 16th century?

Diary will be back tomorrow.

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