Zuckerberg's keynote at MWC on 24 Feb Photo : The Inquirer

Zuckerberg’s keynote at MWC on 24 Feb
Photo : The Inquirer (hyperlink to full article in text)

Yesterday I blogged about Nokia’s launch of new Android handsets - an example of the chaotic business relationships in mobile. But probably the biggest news of the first day of Mobile World Congress (#mwc14) came from the WhatsApp founder – Ukranian-born Jan Koum – who announced that they would be moving into the voice market later this year following their acquisition by Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook. And so the latest piece of the puzzle falls into place for Facebook’s mobile strategy, some would say it has been a chequered history so far but who seriously can predict what will happen in mobile? It feels from afar like there is a seismic shift in mobile not seen since the iPhone launch and mobile carriers are set to be hit yet again with loss of customer loyalties. The fact that Zuckerberg’s keynote (less of a presentation, more of a boring interview according to Lee Bell, a journalist at The Inquirer ) has created so much interest shows that the somewhat closeted Mobile World Congress may be trying to embrace Internet at last.

Mobile operators used to compete on pricing plans per minute, per message and then per Megabyte of data. Nowadays the majority of postpay users have unlimited messaging, virtually unlimited voice minutes and a reasonable chunk of data inclusive but there is very little take-up of “added-value” services of the carriers (when I say “unlimited”, it comes with a health warning as some tariffs claim “unlimited” yet some telcos have something in their consumer facing Tc & Cs about “reasonable use” giving themselves a right to apply extra charges that insulates them from abuse and overuse by consumers who insist on taking the mick).

The success of WhatsApp, like all great ideas, is its simplicity – message anyone anywhere using their mobile number as the identifier. No extortionate roaming SMS or data charges if you can get to a free WiFi hotspot then you can use the App. Mobile operators only have themselves and their greed to make money from travelling customers to blame for the rise of competitors like WhatsApp and SnapChat (which Facebook failed to buy). Their own efforts to launch VOIP-type Apps have failed mainly because of a lack of cross-network capabilities and poor execution and App quality. It almost makes you wonder if they are trying!

A few years ago I was talking to a “Product Owner” from a mobile carrier about one of their new data-centric services and he candidly told me “Well actually we don’t want the service to be TOO successful. We want users to be interested enough to buy a data plan but not to use their whole allowance as that would hit our capacity!” so it is no surprise really that operators have missed the boat. Some, like Chua Sock Koong, reckon carriers can avoid becoming bit-pipes for the more Internet-savvy companies but they will have to work together better. The obvious stumbling block is the most popular services need to work transparently across different communities of users just like good old SMS. Apple’s iMessage is fine if all your contacts have iPhone/iPad but that is becoming increasingly unlikely with the rise of Android and Windows-Phone 8 so the use of the MSISDN as identifier is still a key differentiator but with WhatsApp carriers have even lost control of that it seems.

The scene is set now for co-operations or battles between operators and service providers like never before. There is an interesting analogy with fast home broadband - the astronomic success of Netflix – which has led to rows with Verizon about the dominant hogging of bandwidth. The thing is, without innovations and seriously clever technologies behind services, the carriers would not be able to sell their bandwidth and expensive contract plans anyway so it really is a win-win if they can just get along.

In other MWC news, there’s talk of 5G services coming along in the mobile world and with the right services consumers will pay for the bandwidth to recoup the £billions invested I suppose. The other main story is an explosion in wearable devices (as mentioned by Martin Brazill in an earlier blog), with Samsung causing the most excitement in the MWC arena with their Gear, running on the Tizen operating system. The whole area of SmartWatches is one of the most interesting with applications needing to be developed especially the introduction of yet another mobile O/S may not be a barrier to developers wishing to come up with health-monitoring, remote controllers, etc. apps which will lessen the need to carry the phone with us on the early morning jog any more!

So back to Mark Zuckerberg. In his keynote he talked a lot about data compression and making Apps that were more efficient (citing WhatsApp as a prime example of a very efficient data consuming App) and he also talked in altruistic terms about internet.org and supporting Internet connectivity for the next 5 billion. Facebook is seeking partnerships with operators (“we’re looking for 3 or 5 partners” said Mr Z, [by which he meant
mobile telcos] to offer Facebook for free which some operators, such as Vodafone, have not been too sympathetic to support by zero-rating. But that said, where there is a commercial benefit then it could happen.

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MWC14_Logo-blackBGThe annual Mobile World Congress (#mwc14) event is underway in Barcelona. Those lucky enough to travel there will have already been treated to some surprising announcements, none more so than Nokia launching new android-based phones without the normal Google tie-ins associated with Samsung, Sony and other manufacturers.

The move was surprising to me and “perplexing” to other market analysts as I had assumed until fairly recently that Nokia were riding the two horses of Microsoft Windows for high-end Lumia range handsets and the cheap Asha operating system which replaced Symbian in Nokia’s arsenal for the lower end of the market.

It seems to me that the new X, X+ and XL phones will be a bit of a “dog’s breakfast” in that they will come with Android O/S but run Microsoft Outlook as standard and also incorporate BlackBerry Messenger. But at a cost of under a hundred quid they might be worth a look.

For more details see the story on BBC News – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-26320552

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Getting ready for the 2014 conference season, it struck me that the technology revolution has moved from “E” to “D” – by that I mean Digital has replaced Electronic (as in E-Commerce) as the new “must have” conference title.

I remember back in the 1970’s when Digital was replacing Analogue – with the mass introduction of digital watches and calculators – so it amuses me to see it re-cycled. Obviously the generation adopting the word today don’t see the irony in it – nor do the companies inventing Digital divisions.

The serious point is that we’re struggling to articulate the impact of disruptive change on many axis simultaneously. Led by Cloud and Mobile and closely followed by Social Media, Big Data, the need for a secure on-line Identity and even ‘wearable’ technology (back to my old digital watch again) how do enterprises encapsulate the change ?

Cloud is probably the easiest to grasp as it is the most mature and is already releasing its technology potential, but now it needs to be recognised as commercial disruptor – it has already impacted traditional hosting vendors and subjugated “lock-in” contracts they felt were safe. Cloud provides not only a natural ‘leap frogging’ for new entrants into markets by reducing up front set up costs, but can also be a defensive strategy for those businesses trying to adapt to meet rapidly changing customer expectations and behaviours.

Mobile is a key driver changing behaviour – where the acceleration of mobile and tablet (e.g. non-PC) platform adoption is changing the location of the commercial interaction with customers. The mobility of smart phones and tablets has released the consumer from a seat at the desk (office or home PC) and consumers are “inviting” enterprises onto their commuter trains or into their sitting room as they ‘browse in the morning’ and ‘buy in the evening’.

Social Media has benefited from this informal interaction and given access to every review, post, tweet and blog – allowing research ahead of an eventual instore or online purchase – and making C2C communications the primary channel for feedback. Not only do we look up facts at the dinner table using our smart phones but we’re looking at everyone else’s opinion of that new camera, car or city-break as part of the selection process.

All that “opinion” needs a home and – adding it together with all the data produced from location tracking, monitoring and automated machine to machine communication – we have the exponential growth in the volume of data. Then you need tools and techniques to analyse that data (back to Cloud again).

Consumers are also demanding personal interaction which drives the need for Identity – allowing industries to start to drive up the quality and richness of exchanges to enhance customer experience.

So finally I come back to my original question – is my old Digital watch trendy again ?

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There have been some high profile instances recently of a Mobile App being “Retired”:

  • LinkedIn for iPad (they are retiring versions prior to 7)
  • Flappy Birds (yes, I know this link goes nowhere – it’s been withdrawn!)

Let’s take the second one first as that has even made CNN News and the pages of TIME as incredulous tech and gaming journalists speculate about the real reasons why anyone would voluntarily sacrifice over $50k a DAY in revenues by withdrawing an App from Apple and Google stores. Maybe Dong Nguyen just made enough money, or maybe he really was getting fed up with something that a lot of App Developers forget about – how to support your App in the ever-changing world of mobile. Or maybe he just wanted to create loads of publicity before cheap imitations like this took over.

In the former example of LinkedIn, like many of you probably,  I’ve been getting emails for a few days now encouraging me to change:

We wanted to follow up and remind you that we’ll no longer be supporting LinkedIn iPad app versions older than 7.0 starting February 18. This will help us focus on creating even better mobile products and experiences for you.

You currently have one of these older apps, but you can download the latest app anytime from the iTunes App Store. It’s a brand new app — we think you’ll like it! With the new app you can now search for jobs — plus like, share, and comment on what you’re reading.

Have questions? Visit our Help Center for more info.

Now, this is in spite of my having updated to version 7.1 of the App almost as soon as it came out as I regularly update my Apps. Why don’t they know that and stop spamming me? Oh, I forgot, that’s what LinkedIn does best…

“So what?”  you say…

Well, one common theme is that the “idea” to “retirement” lifecycle of mobile is fast – less than a few months in flappy birds (rather extreme) case and seems like LinkedIn have put some thought and effort into trying to ensure customers did not continue using their unsupported App version. This is accepted and understood by consumers who most likely downloaded the thing for free anyway but what if you’re the CEO of a company that just invested a few hundred thousand in developing some internal Apps for your employees?

Most people accept that the mobile development landscape is complicated and not getting any easier, in spite of cross-platform tools and web development paradigms so one of your pillars of your Mobile Enterprise is managing those Apps, supporting them, providing updates as operating systems update and, before long, retiring them completely. Have you thought through this before you launch your Apps on to your staff or customers?

We are seeing common trends, one very obvious one is that developing successfully for mobile within the Enterprise needs Agile methods to deliver value. So in a mature organisation a good choice for extending development to cover inception and longer term management could be an extended Agile delivery lifecycle such as provided in Disciplined Agile (DAD). The lifecycle extends your standard iterations to provide the initiation and support parts of the lifecycle.


The important points are not to stifle innovation, nor to slow down responsiveness to your users’ demands but to make sure you don’t waste your innovators’ time supporting out of date code and you also notify your users to get new versions in an intelligent way. Notification of users seems such a simple and common practice it’s amazing that Windows-8 Mobile doesn’t have common notification management yet although it’s rumoured to be coming soon as the Action Centre.

Having only just bitten the bullet and dumped my Android phone for a shiny new Nokia Windows-8 handset I’m finding first hand now a lot of these subtle differences in maturity between Android, iOS and Windows-Mobile, but Microsoft/Nokia are catching up fast and needs to be part of your mobile first strategy.

Three ‘Smarties’ (code name: 3 Wise Men) were seen blending in with the crowd last night at the Norwich offices of Virgin Wines, for a Christmas special meetup organised by Norfolk Developers (@NorfolkDev) the specialist group for techs by techs.

On a fact-finding mission to gather intelligence and boost their knowledge around Worklight, IBM’s swish mobile development and deployment platform, they didn’t come away empty-handed – or hungry!

Here’s their account:

Covert ops report: filed by JElsey, CSimms and JSpear at 22.00hrs on 04.12.13 in deep cover at Lat 52.634 Long 1.301

From left: Paul Grenyer (NorDev), Vladimir Vladimir Kislicins (IBM) , Andrew Ferrier (IBM) and Dom Davis (Virgin Wines)

From left: Paul Grenyer (NorDev), Vladimir Kislicins (IBM), Andrew Ferrier (IBM), and Dom Davis (Virgin Wines host and NorDev)

A buffet-to-die-for (by @norwichcat) and a delicious choice wines (VirginWines, obviously) ambushed delegates on arrival. Few resisted.

Polite intros by the organisers and adverts about the many tech events in the locality didn’t throw us of the trail. We were 100% focused on the mission at hand (but never underestimate how much is happening for techs and devs in Norfolk thanks to Grenyer, Davis and others).

Vladimir Kislicins, IBM-er at Hursley, was first up. His unassuming and suave delivery looked to us like a “Worklight 101”.  Covering a bit of history and context of Worklight, Kislicins  provided the essential heads-up on things like basic setup and ideal set (you’ve really gotta have iOS and Android devices). He dared a demo or two before the interval.

Eye-witnessing ample vino refills (VirginWines, naturally) and repeated swoops on the buffet, we saw attendees mingling and comparing notes on the event so far. Nobody stood alone. Despite all the hubbub, we retained our cover and stood resolute to our mission; we were here for the facts, not the food… oh ok, maybe one more sandwich then.

Andrew Ferrier, speaking at NorDev

Andrew Ferrier, speaking at NorDev

Andrew Ferrier IBM-er also out of Hursley (@andrewferrier) was second up. Focused on best practices with hybrid and mobile, Ferrier extolled the advantages of Worklight for developers.

And he took off like a gazelle, pouncing this way and that, as he contested the differences between the dojo and jquery mobile frameworks. Armed with his up-beat style and his laser pen pointer, he took us entirely by surprise.  We felt the need to regroup but there just wasn’t time…

Ferrier blasted through debugging options, the pace of change, (iOS 6+: web inspector; Android 4.4) and was unexpectedly intercepted by an inbound challenge on Weinre from dev expert Neil Sedger (@moley666), himself in deep cover amongst the crowd.  But it was ok – Ferrier fielded the intervention with ease and pressed on to cover performance and memory management.

“You have to remember we’re still targeting old devices” he cautioned.  This tip seemed highly significant so we wrote that down, put big quote marks around it and swallowed it. We’d analyse these tops tips later if we all made it back to the safe house (no, not the public house, what do you take us for? Oh c’mon, were meant to be incognitus tonight guys).

Appearance, CSS rules and treatment of lazy-loading images appearing as they are scrolled in were covered before Ferrier could move on to RESTful services.

GET. PUT. POST. DELETE.   - Yup, we got that.

JSON as your data format.  – Yup, got that too.

But Ferrier saved until last his secret weapon – the Worklight Adapter framework. This was very, very neat stuff. Our developers knew to see that one coming, but the crowd clearly didn’t. Ferrier did well to contain his enthusiasm for Worklight Adapters, a jewel in the crown for IBM’s mobile application platform.

Sprinting to finish, Lifecycle would have been Ferrier’s final topic and last hurrah in Norwich, but he saved it for another day and opened the floor for questions.

There was a very lively interactive Q&A, with questions being fired in from all directions. We busied ourselves capturing the intel.

But surprisingly for a tech meetup, everyone was fixated on Worklight pricing. Ferrier looked like he had been tazered, but said he knew nothing about pricing. Pressure from the crowd did force him to let slip the existence of a B2B and B2C pricing model and, crucially, availability of a developer version and a production version.  The secret was going to blown wide open now.

Ferrier cracked and the baying crowd moved in.

“Developers can download Worklight for free!”, he exclaimed,“OK – take it, have a play with it, see what it can do for you, it won’t cost you an penny. But take an app to the outside world, or put it into production in your own organisation, then we’ll obviously have to start charging you.”

We’d got what we came for. It was time to retreat to HQ.

Thinking that Norfolk Developers will be worth another visit in 2014, we disappeared into the night and went our separate ways.

Current status:  Mission accomplished.

No names have been changed. Nobody was that innocent.

Related Links

Blog by James Elsey on Worklight and Continuous Innovation > https://smart421.wordpress.com/2012/11/23/ibm-worklight-making-light-work-of-app-development-in-the-enterprise/

Blog by JSpear on IBM Mobile First > https://smart421.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/with-mobilefirst-ibm-has-just-made-mobile-exciting-again/

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I’ve been doing some thinking recently about digital strategies for big companies. The big blue chips that us consumers deal with on a day to day basis are acutely aware that the world is changing.

We get our news from Twitter, our entertainment from Netflix, and our jobs from LinkedIn. We routinely carry in our pockets more computing power than sat on our desk just 5 years ago.

Big companies have a lot to protect. In the main, they’re already successful. They have established products that customers already buy, but it’s rare that you hear a customer talk about their bank the same way they talk about their iPad.

So what are the magic ingredients? What is it that draws us to things like Google and Netflix?

Here’s your chance – leave a comment, and let me know the last time you had a real “wow!” moment with a company that involved digital/mobile/internet technology…

Last week I was fortunate enough to attend my 4th annual DroidCon UK. DroidCon is a 2 day conference held at the Business Design Centre in Islington. London and encourages Android developers and enthusiasts to come together and share their ideas, apps, and advice.

As with previous years, the first day is a bar camp (45 minute talks that are decided on the day, based on who is there and who wants to present something). The second day is more structured with a pre defined schedule of talks. There are also vendor booths around the main hall promoting their products and services.

The purpose of this post is for me to summarise the event and mention some of the key things I took away from it.

Dependency Injection on android
The first talk discussed dependency injection and how it can be achieved on android via libraries such as RoboGuice and Dagger.  A quick show of hands made it clear that very few people in the room are actually following DI. Coming from a predominantly Java/Spring background, I understand the benefits of using DI (giving objects exactly what they need, loose coupling and easier testing), but there is a certain stigma that DI holds when mentioned alongside android. RoboGuice is often assumed to be the “go-to” DI framework, however there is a new kid on the block, dagger, from square.

Without a doubt, this was my favourite session from the conference, I was impressed with the service they offer, and its free! For those of you that have at some point developed an android app, chances are you’ve emailed the APK around to a few friends and asked them to check it out. They may have encountered some errors, but all you’ll likely hear is “it crashed when I clicked the blue button”, which isn’t entirely helpful.

Fortunately, the guys over at TestFairy have developed a service whereby you can upload your APK to your online account, and distribute it to your friends. When your friends install and open the app, their interactions are recorded, so if there is an error you can see a video clip of what they pressed in order to get the error. Logs are included, along with various other useful information such as battery, cpu, memory usage. Finally, you spot that bug that only occurs if an incoming call occurs whilst on your app! Please, please go check them out.

OCR on android
Next up was another bar camp discussion around OCR on android and how it can be achieved by using OpenCV. I was quite interested in this talk as I have done some work with OCR on android/iOS for Aviva. The discussion covered the basics of using the OpenCV library, however the emphasis was mostly on how non-trivial OCR is. I can certainly vouch for that, in order to get results that are even remotely close I needed to use blacklists and whitelists for characters, and pre-process the image. If you’re interested in OCR on android I’d highly recommend having a look at the tess-two project on github, which is a fantastic java wrapper around tesseract tools.

I haven’t delved too deeply into SQLite storage on android, but from what I did experiment with it wasn’t the easiest of APIs to work with. Fortunately there is a library called Cupboard that makes this easier with its fluent API. Hugo Visser, the creator of Cupboard gave a brilliant talk on how to get started using it.

Instant backends with Windows Azure
Microsoft, at an android conference, not what you’d typically expect, however they did provide a great session on how to get started building mobile backends on the Azure platform. Microsoft provide an intuitive interface so you can quite quickly create and deploy a backend with social sign in via the usual providers (Google, Facebook). You’re also able to download client libraries so that you can quickly and easily exchange data between your backend and the mobile client. Whilst this looks like a promising offer enabling you to get moving fast, I’m quite sceptical about whether or not ease/speed is still a benefit once your backend becomes more complex.

There is an excellent tutorial here

Mobile backend starter, from Google
Google is also on the BaaS scene, offering the mobile backend as a starter. This is based on the existing Google cloud platform services like app engine and cloud store. Similar to the Azure offering, you’re able to deploy a sample backend in a few clicks and are given client libraries to make the communication as easy as using a Java API.

A colleague of mine, Charlie Simms also attended the event, here is his take on it

A variety of SDKs were promoted at this years event, such as :

So what did it for me:

The event had 86 line ups so there was plenty to choice from, but having done my MSc at Surrey and been on a Satellite Communications Workshop (http://www.surrey.ac.uk/ee/study/pd/courses/satellite_communications.htm ) I was very interest and puzzled in the Keynote on Friday morning “Smart-Phones in Space” http://uk.droidcon.com/2013/sessions/keynote-smart-phones-in-space-a-guide/ why would you want to put a mobile phone in space. Dr Chris Bridges lead a small team at Surrey University Space Centre (http://www.surrey.ac.uk/ssc/ ) to launch a Nexus 1 into low Earth orbit. This talk provided the journey of the first of many ‘phone-sat’ projects and how hardware and software challenges were overcome to achieve this scientific feat in teaching and research. A brilliant talk both interesting and demonstrating what advanced technology is packed into a smart phone.

The second thing that did it for me was the talk by Benjamin Cabé  “Leveraging Android for the Internet of Things with Eclipse M2M”. Benjamin is an Open-Source M2M evangelist and chair of the Eclipse M2M project (http://m2m.eclipse.org). This talk briefly introduced the Eclipse M2M projects with cool end-to-end examples, combining the use of Android API for doing fleet tracking, remote monitoring, and home automation. Also discussed importantly is the challenge of operating large fleets of M2M devices, with the need for cloud-based scalable infrastructures. With the vast amounts of data being collected from possibly billions of sources there will be an ever greater need for cloud base services and the support for big data. The internet of things still in its infancy but it won’t be long before it starts to impact all our lives in the same way as mobile technology is doing today. Certainly a space to be watched closely.

The weird and wonderful

If you’ve made it this far, then lets end the post on some of the weird and wonderful ways that android is being used.

This year we had the worlds (probably) only android powered hydroponics system for growing plants indoors.


Android powered hydroponics system from Seraku

There was also an android enabled car, an android powered mirror (which you can operate with your best Tom Cruise “Minority Report” impression), and a guy controlling an android powered robot via his android powered smartwatch

Lego Mindstorms robot controlled via AndroidScript / Smartwatch

Lego Mindstorms robot controlled via AndroidScript / Smartwatch

I feel that every year droidcon has a bit of a theme to it, well perhaps not a theme as such, but there will be one or two topics that are in the limelight of the conference, last year felt like the focus was on NFC, this year there was quite a focus on the backends and security, which may pinpoint androids evolution into the B2E space. With presence from Motorola Rhomobile promoting their enterprise platform, droidcon isn’t just attracting indie developers and B2C solutions.

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MB 1987 RiverIn the 1980’s, I was a typical PITA user, developing applications behind the backs of the IT department, even bringing my own PC and software into work. Eventually the IT department ‘took me under their wing’ and I was the one fighting off guerrilla developments from the user community, but by providing them with better, faster and more flexible technology, we won the day.

Now I find myself on the other side of the fence again.

I don’t develop anymore, but I’m watching the world of Cloud encourage self-service in the technical user community and leave IT departments behind. It’s a theme I have returned to before – the “democratisation of compute power” – served up brilliantly through the AWS IaaS model. We’ll see more examples of this at the AWS Enterprise Summit mid-September that Smart421 is sponsoring.  ( hashtag #AWSsummit )

However, it’s not just the Cloud that is challenging IT departments.

Mobile too seems to be spawning a new generation of Garagists*.  Either bright individuals buried in large companies or small one or two man bands creating mobile applications – building on core components (hosting/logon/mapping/location) provided by Apple, Google etc. by adding layers of creativity.

So what’s the problem – the real point here ?

The issue is security. When I was hacking out applications and getting sneaky access to CRM databases and pricing algorithms, everything was safe inside the corporate firewall. Nowadays it is mobile and cloud based.

Both of these technologies I wholeheartedly support, but like everything it has to be done in the right way. So if it was up to me again, I’d develop a Cloud strategy and Mobile architectural guidelines ASAP – before the Horse has bolted, the Cat is out of the bag and the Gorilla (sic) is in the mist.

* “The word Garagiste refers to the great Enzo Ferrari’s hatred of the multitude of talented, but small, Formula 1 teams that were emerging out of Britain in the late 50′s and early 60′s … were basically garage workers (grease monkeys in less formal parlance) compared to the engineering might of his Scuderia Ferrar. These teams didn’t produce their own engines or other ancillaries (aside from BRM), specialising mostly in light, nimble chassis”. http://dancleggf1.wordpress.com/2011/12/12/italys-garagistes/

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2013 SyncNorwich meetup 11 Jun Organisers highres_258359982Fifty or so techs and start-ups were shoe-horned into the upper room at Karma Kafe in Norwich ( @LoveKarmaKafe ) last night to celebrate a rather special birthday.

The occasion was the first birthday of SyncNorwich,  the geek-friendly interest group which was officially launched 5th July 2012 and which has proven to be a big hit with start-ups, developers and technologists across Norfolk and beyond.

It’s worth highlighting that in its first year, this group has been able to attract over 550 registered members and has held over 30 meetups. That takes some doing, so there was resounding congratulations and plenty of back-slapping for the team of five co-organisers (see photo: John Fagan, Juliana Meyer, Stephen Pengilley, Vickie Allen and Seb Butcher).

After the SyncNorwich birthday cake was sung in, the group got down to the serious business of the presentations.

Quality talks have become one of the hallmarks of SyncNorwich and this meetup was no exception.

First up were two students from Norwich School who had enjoyed unusually rapid success with their concept around saving food waste and money.  The pair of them very ably presented the FoodSafe app which had caught the eye of supermarket giant, Tesco, as well as ministers at the House of Commons.

It certainly captured the imagination of pretty much everyone in the room and, if the tweets are anything to go by (search Twitter using hashtag #syncnorwich ), the pair have inspired others with start-up ambitions.

Next time you hear anyone banging on about “oh – the youth of today” and youngsters being nothing but wasters, send them across to me – and I’ll be pleased to point them to these “Tesco kids” – great examples of what “the youth of today” is capable of when given the right conditions to thrive. Rant over.

Second session was a trio from tech start-up, 99 Squared (@99SQUARED) who outlined the benefits of Kuoob a new digital platform for shopping centres, newspaper & magazine publishers, trade shows & more. Important:  not to be confused with @Kuoob an electronic dance music act from London). Whereas it is an early stage start-up, it seems to have found good backers and assembled a small team of people who are passionate and who know what they are doing. One to watch, we think. Time will tell.

Smartinis Photo by Vickie Allen

Photo by Vickie Allen

Smart421 was pleased to join in the celebrations. We’re been there from the start and have always tried hard to ensure our sponsorship is supportive as possible, never attempting any unwelcome corporate manoeuvre. SyncNorwich is, and always has been, for the people by the people. It’s what makes it special. So when we had an opportunity to be creative, we couldn’t resist wheeling in a competition featuring a special variation of  The Smartini  (see blog: “How to make a The Smartini – a truly remarkable cocktail”, May 30).

Based on a “real” cocktail created by our friend David Hurst at Cocktailmaker UK (@CocktailmakerUK), the new concept certainly seemed to get people talking during the mid session break. Most participated in the competition. Lucky winners took away some rather classy cocktail shaker sets (@RyanNewell   @J0echamberlain   @m_p_wells). No doubt they will practicing this weekend ?

A quite hush fell around the room when Growth Accelerator (@GrowthAccel) commenced the final talk of the evening. Bringing a realistic and well grounded angle, the talk outlined some of the key things to look for and remember when trying to find funding for tech projects. One point caught my attention which I tweeted “#startups advice: apply for funds 6 months before you need it. Allow 10% of total as costs of admin, legal, etc”.  For novices to venture funding it’s a sobering thought but it shows how essential it is to listen to the voice of experience if you’re just starting out.

Music throughout the evening was delivered by developer Pete Roome (@zoltarspeaks) who has established himself as Emeritus DJ of SyncNorwich. You wouldn’t have realised, but he’s as nifty on the iPad as he is on the decks.

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Remember this? The IBM Simon Personal Communicator, the world's first smartphone. How times have changed!

Remember this? The IBM Simon Personal Communicator, the world’s first smartphone. How times have changed!

Until now, mobile just hasn’t had the take up by UK enterprises you might expect. But all that seems set to change.

The key drivers are threefold: the first is progressive mobile enablement of the company workforce, or business-to-employee (B2E); the second is individuals like you and me wanting to deal with companies we buy products and services from via a proliferation of mobile phones/tablets/set top consoles, or business-to-consumer (B2C); the third is companies trading with one another via a variety of mobile channels, or business-to-business (B2B).

IBM has a distinct advantage of a fine reputation with large enterprises.  And it is precisely within those enterprises that we think  a very lucrative opportunity resides. Many of those UK enterprises eager to know more about what mobile means for them descended on IBM South Bank in London this week (18 June).

Whereas this 1-day event followed an unremarkable formula (registration, opening plenary, coffee, 2nd keynote, lunch, breakouts, coffee, panel session, closing keynote, beer), in my opinion the content itself was entirely remarkable, taking many I spoke with by surprise in terms of the quality and coverage it provided.

The event was organised by Bob Yelland’s ( @BobYelland ) excellent marketing team and hosted by Mike Spradbery (  @spradders  @IBMMobileUK ), IBM’s charismatic and energetic Mobile leader for UK and Ireland.

IBM’s own journey with mobile is clear and roundly understood; MobileFirst is the apogee of IBM’s go to market proposition in the mobile space. A combination of strategic innovation and business acquisitions is now delivering one of the most coherent offerings we have seen in a long time.

In short, IBM has just made mobile exciting again.



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