Mobius 2004 wrap up

A full report along with photos is now up on Geek.com and can be found here.

I would like to provide a little more of my personal thoughts here on my personal blog to supplement my full “official” report.

Day 1
I went to the hotel and found Chris Leckness who I have been talking with for about a year since I help out at times with iPAQ HQ.com. I was a huge HP and iPAQ fan for years, but currently use the MDA III Phone Edition and no longer have an iPAQ in my collection so I don’t contribute much over there anymore. Chris and I went to eat some Italian food at Pike Place Market before going back to the hotel for the evening reception.

I was already paying $25 a day for parking at the hotel so I didn’t want to pay the $10 more per day for internet access since I had it on my devices with T-Mobile’s $4.99 T-Zones data plan. However, as I just stated in my previous post, I can no longer get T-Mobile access with this cheap plan and will have to pony up. The good thing is Geek.com gave me a longetivity bonus for over 3 years of writing so that will pay for the access.

We then had a reception kicked off by Derek Brown. I drank Diet Pepsi (I have lost over 20 pounds in the last few months and didn’t want to blow it completely) and had some of the great food. I played with Ryan’s Treo 650 and have to admit it is a very nice device. Joel has the Sprint review sample and will be reviewing it for Geek.com since I reviewed the Treo 600 last time. I am definitely keeping my eye out for the GSM version in 2005, but will be following the threads at TreoCentral closely to see what the issues with this latest model are. Ryan was using a UX50 quite a bit which I think is funny because I was the big UX50 advocate last year and no one seemed to think much of it. He showed me a new launcher app and KeyQuick which really could have made the UX50 usable without a stylus if I had given it more time. I still like my T3 and won’t go back now that Sony isn’t providing any support and has dropped the US PDA users.

I met Marcus Adolfsson from TreoCentral and chatted with Jason Dunn, Chris, Arne Hess, Jorgen Sundgot, Lisa Gade, Julie Strietelmeier, Howard Chui, and others at the reception. I then went back to my room and rented a movie, The Village, since I wasn’t yet tired.

Day 2

Jason Gordon launched the official part of the event with an intro and then asked each of us to give an intro. Here is a full list of attendees:

Julie Strietelmeier, The Gadgeteer
Lisa Gade, PDA Buyer’s Guide
Chris Leckness, Aximsite.com and iPAQ HQ.com
Paul O’Brien, MoDaCo.com
Rich Brome, Phone Scoop
Rafe Blandford, All About Symbian
Jason Dunn, Smartphone Thoughts
Eric Levine, Engadget
Paul Chee Wee, PPCSG.com
Paul Matt, threegmobile.com
Wes Salmon, Microsoft and WesSalmon.com
Arne Hess, PPCW.net
Peter Rojas, Engadget
pt (Phillip Torrone), Engadget
Jorgen Sundgot, infoSync World
Ryan Kairer, Palm Infocenter
Marcus Adolfsson, TreoCentral
Hal Goldstein, Pocket PC Magazine
Jenneth Orantia, Jenneth.info
Andy Sjostrom, Pocket PC Thoughts
Howard Chui, HowardForums
Myself, of course

Ryan then got up and talked about the Palm platform. He thinks Palm Cobalt, OS 6, will be a big hit for PalmSource and that devices will be out sooner than Ed Colligan stated (he has been saying 2006 in interviews). I hope PalmSource is right because they need to get a fire going now with Microsoft coming out with so many new devices and improving their OS. I think we will see more smartphone devices from palmOne and a cheap low cost model PDA, but not much more in the high end PDA realm.

Rafe then gave a nice presentation on the Symbian OS. I do like my Nokia 3650 and Rafe laughed when I told him that was the Series 60 device I had since there has been an update to Series 60 and many newer devices have been released since then. I really need to get an updated Symbian OS device to test out.

We were then shown some Windows Mobile devices by Michael Bullion. I loved the HTC Magician Phone Edition device and could see using something like that in the future. I think this one is only available in Europe though at this time.

Our first breakout session was then held and I was grouped with Andy, Jason Dunn, Wes, and Ryan (who typed the notes on his UX50). We talked about mobile services and what we would like to see provided on devices, i.e. media, location based apps, and multi-player gaming.

A Motorola rep. then gave us their PR spiel about being the best in the mobile device arena. Questions about the problems with the MPx220 were brought up and issues like the low speaker volume may have been fixed with a software update. He gave us each a MPx220 and it has a later ROM on it so hopefully the problems are fixed. I gave my wife my MPx220 when I got home and after 3 days of use she is quite happy. I tried converting her for the last several months without luck and think the MPx220 may finally work. I am showing her how to use Outlook on it and the desktop and will be putting some apps and MP3s on it for her as well. I didn’t like the MPx220 form factor the couple times I have seen it, but after playing with it some more it is OK. I still think Motorola could have done well by just updating the OS and putting Bluetooth into the MPx200 Smartphone, which I loved.

It was also disappointing to see Motorola is limiting the MPx so badly. If this thing is priced over $600 then I don’t see how they think it will do well in the market.

Mike Hall then talked about Windows CE. He had some great things to say and some interesting reference platforms, but I think he was given a bit too much time to present when we needed more time to provide feedback to the Microsoft Mobile Devices team.

Rainer spoke about the SPOT watches and passed some unique models around. We were given a Fossil model the night before and it seems Fossil has an issue they need to fix. You see when you place the watch on the charger nothing happens. You have no way of knowing if it is charging or not on the initial charge and we let Rainer know that Fossil needs to fix this or the average user will not have a good first experience. My other Dick Tracy and Abacus models beeped and showed a charging icon when placed on the charger the first time and this new Fossil one will do that after the first charge. I also had to hold down the three right buttons for about 10 seconds to start the watch the first time, which I haven’t seen before.

The 3 remaining breakout groups then gave their presentations to the group.

The last Day 2 presenter was the people from Action Engine. I think they have an excellent product and look forward to trying it out on my Smartphone and MDA III.

We did get a nice amount of swag from vendors and Microsoft that I detailed in my Geek.com report. I can’t wait to get the unlock code for the C500 and check it out. I will be writing a full review of it for Geek.com in the next month or so. I also was given lots of software that I will be giving out to people since I already have most of it. It was nice to get another copy of my book so I can pass it along to a family member as a gift since I was only given 5 from the publisher.

We went to the SciFi Museum in Seattle for dinner and fun that night. Microsoft gave us an interesting presentation on Halo 2 and I could not believe how well it did in the opening couple of weeks. It surpassed sales of movies and records and set the highest record with over 2 million sold in 24 hours. They set up several stations and we all linked together to play a game of shoot out among each other. I was almost in last place the first game and was continually smoked by Wes and Jason Gordon. I played a few more games and got better every time. The only bad part about this event was that there were a few people who don’t really play video games much so they didn’t have much to do, but talk with each other.

The museum was also quite cool since I am a huge SciFi fan. I wanted to see a Storm Trooper outfit since they are one of my favorite characters, but there wasn’t any in the museum.

I went out to a local bar with Eric, Jorgen, Jenneth, Rafe, and Ryan to chat about devices and get to know them a bit more. I then went back to the room and crashed for the night.

Day 3
The last day was held across the street. We didn’t go to Microsoft at all and I was a bit disappointed about not going to the store since I wanted to try to get Halo 2 for myself and some other XBox games for my girls for Christmas.

Matt Taylor talked about the hardware side of things and it was a great perspective to hear.

Dan Titus then spoke about CoPilot for Pocket PC and Smartphone devices. I haven’t even heard about this product for the Smartphone and can’t wait to try it out. He said we will be getting the software, but it hadn’t arrived by the time I had to leave to make it to my company Christmas party that night. ALK is quite popular with the commercial trucking industry and they also create their own map data, unlike most other GPS software developers that use Navtech or other data.

Aaron gave a talk about Microsoft’s consumer strategy and showed some cool software products.

Matt Rogers, from Orange, gave us his PR talk that included a slide of their supported devices. I did not realize they sold devices from all the operating systems, including the Treo 600.

We were then able to provide some feedback to a couple of Windows Mobile employees. I don’t think we were given enough time and would like to see a half of a day devoted to this subject. I have a long list of fixes and new features that I will be passing along via email, but I would have liked to have time to discuss it with the group. I didn’t see them taking notes either and wonder if our input is really even taken to heart since we talked about the same things last year. I know that Magneto (WM2005) is under development and they can’t talk about it so I hope some of our issues are addressed since this is where I think enthusiasts like us can provide the most valuable service to Microsoft.

Mobius 2004 was enjoyable, although I had a better time at Mobius 2003. It is always great to talk with people face-to-face and I hope to get invited back in the future.

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