advertising information

CNN.com
 MAIN PAGE
 WORLD
 ASIANOW
 U.S.
 LOCAL
 POLITICS
 WEATHER
 BUSINESS
 SPORTS
 TECHNOLOGY
   computing
   personal technology
   space
 NATURE
 ENTERTAINMENT
 BOOKS
 TRAVEL
 FOOD
 HEALTH
 STYLE
 IN-DEPTH

 custom news
 Headline News brief
 daily almanac
 CNN networks
 CNN programs
 on-air transcripts
 news quiz

  CNN WEB SITES:
CNN Websites
 TIME INC. SITES:
 MORE SERVICES:
 video on demand
 video archive
 audio on demand
 news email services
 free email accounts
 desktop headlines
 pointcast
 pagenet

 DISCUSSION:
 message boards
 chat
 feedback

 SITE GUIDES:
 help
 contents
 search

 FASTER ACCESS:
 europe
 japan

 WEB SERVICES:
COMPUTING

From...
Industry Standard

Cutting the cord: New devices allow continuous connectivity

by Seth Goldstein

(IDG) -- People who know me by e-mail alone imagine that I am a workaholic chained to my PC. I often respond to messages within a matter of minutes. But appearances can be deceiving. In truth, I spend less than a few hours a day in front of my computer.

I'm unplugged.

For the last five months, I've been wearing a two-way pager, called the RIM 950, from BellSouth. This compact device, which comes complete with a tiny keyboard, allows me to send and receive e-mail wirelessly. Unlike most gadgets I buy and abandon quickly, this one offers utility that outstrips its novelty.

Although the majority of Internet users are relative newbies, a growing segment of mobile professionals and wired consumers has been online for more than two years. And they're the ones turning to palmtops, subnotebooks, handhelds and smart phones. The really interesting part of all this is that it indicates a seemingly tireless desire for constant electronic contact.

The executive who needs to be in continuous contact during an important business deal is also the mom picking up the kids, dealing with the baby-sitter and booking dinner reservations. Just as Web stores like Amazon.com need to be open around the clock, the flip-side is also true. Internet-era consumers need to be connected to a network 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

MORE COMPUTING INTELLIGENCE
  IDG.net home page
  Industry Standard home page
  Industry Standard email newsletters
  Industry Standard daily Media Grok
  Industry Standard financial news
 Reviews & in-depth info at IDG.net
  IDG.net's personal news page
  Questions about computers? Let IDG.net's editors help you
  Subscribe to IDG.net's free daily newsletter for computer industry cognoscenti
  Search IDG.net in 12 languages
 News Radio
  Fusion audio primers
  Computerworld Minute
   

A new industry is building products to sustain this trend toward continuous personal computing. Each innovative product, moreover, integrates the functionality of other products. The Palm Pilot synchronizes contacts and calendar features with cell phones. The RIM 950 two-way e-mail pager can also send faxes and voice-mail messages. This spring, Qualcomm's new pdQ cell phone will allow a person to click on a contact and automatically dial the number. The upcoming Palm Pilot VII will offer online stock trading through E-Trade and travel reservations through Travelocity.

The creators of the Pilot, Jeff Hawkins and Donna Dubinsky, have started a new company called Handspring. The company's first product is rumored to be targeted at helping travelers in foreign cities find local merchants, services and entertainment. Network computing takes the concept of telecommuting a step further.

It's the new model: cyborg chic. We're taking bits and pieces of the network with us in our hands, on our belts, in our jacket pockets.

The line between geeky gadgetness and techno sophistication has never been more difficult to discern. Size matters. So, too, does sound. The Pilot is big enough to receive data, but small enough to carry on your person. The Philips Nino is a bit too bulky for a jacket pocket. The Rex would be perfect if only it made it easier to enter information. Alarms, beeps, rings are gauche. Vibration is key. Both my e-mail pager and my cell phone are set to buzz. How long will it be before the notification functions of these devices are embedded under my skin?

During the past year, several experiences have hinted at how these trends will play out. My friend Lance runs a venture-capital firm in Ohio. When he comes to New York for meetings, he carries a beautiful leather bag. One would never imagine that the bag contains two cell phones (Nokia 6160 and Nextel i1000), two wireless e-mail pagers (Motorola Skywriter and RIM 950) and two PDAs (Pilot and Rex).

In a recent meeting, he suggested we set up a conference call with another colleague in Ohio. Before I could get up from my seat and grab a conference phone, he had pulled the Nextel phone from his bag, set it on the table and flipped open the cover, exposing the two-way speakerphone, and declared that we were ready for our conference call.

Like the cell phone, the Pilot has transformed life for many of its users. Last July, I went with my coworkers to a hip downtown Manhattan Italian restaurant called Il Buco. We were celebrating the beta launch of a new service we developed called root.net, which was designed to help manage the personal logistics of busy, connected people.

We were just beginning our main course when I noticed two women and a guy seated at a table behind us. Pretty soon, all 10 people in our party had stopped eating and were watching the two women beam contacts back and forth using their Palm III organizers. Never mind the fact that many of us were still using the noninfrared Pilots.

We realized, right then, that the revolution in mobile computing was not about traveling salesmen or road warriors. It was about two friends out to dinner swapping notes. It was about sending e-mail from a taxi. It was about bringing the mountain to Mohammed.

Seth Goldstein (seth@flatironpartners.com) is entrepreneur in residence at Flatiron Partners, a New York venture-capital firm.


RELATED STORIES:
Congress doubts FCC up to managing Internet
March 16, 1999
Receive free faxes by e-mail
March 12, 1999
Each new generation makes Palm handier
March 10, 1999
Handhelds are hot but to IT managers they mean more work
December 22, 1998
E-mail arrives in your pocket
September 17, 1998

RELATED IDG.net STORIES:
Handhelds, cell phones meet halfway
(InfoWorld Electric)
More IP devices crowd the road warrior's toybox
(PC World Online)
Wireless 'service bureau' to link mobile users
(ComputerWorld)
Wireless Internet protocol garnering wider support
(InfoWorld Electric)
Qualcomm brings PalmPilot to the phone
(The Industry Standard)

Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.


RELATED SITES:
BellSouth Corp.
Nokia Corp.
Nextel Communications, Inc.
Motorola, Inc.
Amazon.com

Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

 LATEST HEADLINES:
SEARCH CNN.com
Enter keyword(s)   go    help

Back to the top   © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.