Supernova: Only Connect

Bill Schlough (SF Giants)

Why does wifi make sense for a baseball park? The Giant’s business objective is to win the World Series. Use tech to enable success on the field, including video coaching and scouting app, started in 2000. But more about taking care of the fans in the ballpark, so how does wifi make money? It’s free, and a few other ballparks are experimenting, but no one knows what the business model is but yet various marketing partners like the fact that there is free wifi that the fans can use. Marketing partners want to get their wifi devices in the hands of the fans and they are together figuring out how to use wifi to do that.

Fans use wifi at the ball park for two reasons

– to stay connected, do email, specially when losing 16-3.

– to use interactive services provided by the Giants, such as digital dugout which you need to be at the ballpark to use.

Peter Sisson, Teleo

What VoIP means to telecoms. Billions of dollars of telecoms equipment is about to become irrelevant, but this creates a lot of opportunity.

Old thinking was that telecom was equipment, but now it’s software. VoIP is a computerised device.

Old thinking was that voice is a separate service, but now voice is just a feature, i.e. you can do voice over any equipment. No sense to keep data and voice apart.

Use Teleo to turn Outlook into a telephone. Add a tool bar so you can phone someone who emailed you by a single click (if you have their phone number in your address book). Any phone number on the web – just click and then it makes the call.

New revenue models

– 800: paid inbound calls with 800 numbers

– pay for placement in yellow pages

– pay for search engine placement

Combine those so local plumber bidding for placement on Google, but when you click on it you get put through on the phone.

Stuart Henshall (Skype Journal)

It’s not Vonage who are defining VoIP, it’s people like Skype. User models are different for Skype – people who leave Skype on all the time so that they can just have presence. Allows easy conference calls. Changes the way we think about communications. Can create presence in a simple way.

[Excerpts from the discussion.]

Bill: Chicken and egg problem – how many people bring a laptop into a ballpark? Get 100 – 150 laptops per game, but it’s the wifi PDAs that will be used. They make more sense, the LifeDrives and iPaqs the wifi-enabled Treos. But the business people will bring more laptops on a weekday game than a weekend game. So as these connected devices become more common then they’ll see more uptake.

There’s an issue of ‘cool’ too – here it is cool to have a laptop, but at a game it is not. What if a there’s a ‘fly ball’ that smashes your laptop screen? That’s not cool.

Privacy – if can do replays online, then people will share devices in a collaborative, social way.

There are different demographics that we deal with, but it’s not to much women vs. men, but age. Business people are looking for an opportunity to stay in touch witht he office, to leverage the Digital Dugout, to use that information. Don’t see kids with PDAs, but you will, and we will be ready for it.

Peter: I find it’s impossible to predict what people do with technologies, and if you try you get it wrong. I never wanted a camera in my cellphone, but now I’m sending people pictures all the time. When IM came out, I thought why not send an email, I just didnt’ get it, but now I IM constantly.

There are nuances. IM is right for some conversations, but sometimes email is better, or a phone call. I always fail when I try to predict what people will do with technologies but it’s amazing what people will do with them.

Stuart: One thing to watch is what is going to happen with dual mode handsets, wifi and GSM, so what emerges in terms of linux based. Skype is cross-platform, and have Linux and Symbian, so when they do they will have presence on your mobile phone with your buddy list, so it’ll be a new Plaxo. So if a Skype-like product really emerges and becomes effective in a wifi-centric world, is that the UI and the interface you want to use?

The handset becomes the phone via wifi. It becomes about useabilty and simplicity.

Point from floor: VoIP is by the telecos for the telecos. Skype is for the people.

Question: What if city-wide wifi comes, will that affect your ballpark wifi?

Bill: Not really, if it comes, we’ll embrace it and we don’t care if it’s our wifi or someone else’s.