The 3G Mobile Forum 2004 was held at the Hilton Tokyo Bay, January 13-16, and attracted over 70 top-class speakers in what we construed was an attempt to hammer out where they think 3G is going. With such a treasure trove sitting on our doorsteps across Tokyo Bay, we couldn’t resist bearing our cameras down on some of the leading lights of the show. The following preview will give you a taste of the upcoming programs we’ll running over the next few weeks. Also included in this clip is a demo of a mobile solar power source that was on display from Korean startup Soleitec, they have this sleek and working re-charger ready to keep your mobile device running when the batteries are dying, all for $30. The device should be ready to ship in 8 weeks and they are looking for partners to sell this product. Our only advice: Don’t save this one for a rainy day! Full Program Run-time 6:13
The upcoming videos will cover several key areas of interest. First of all, 30 years after he made that historic call for Motorola, Martin Cooper will give us his take on what he obviously regards as the mess 3G has got itself into. While he didn?t say it in so many words, it is apparent that he thinks engineers have forgotten the basics of spectral efficiency, a key weakness his present company, ArrayComm seems to be taking advantage of in Australia and half a dozen other places. Another key point, not unrelated to his present activities, is that 4G is here already. Lastly, Cooper will make it clear that he thinks makers have forgotten the customer in the mad dash to complexity.
Playboy’s Markus Grindel will walk us through the mobile marketing minefield with some choice comments on the complexities of making a buck on an obvious big seller- adult content. As he points out, adult content has driven every expansion of the modern media environment from the late 70s with VHS through to DVDs, the Internet and digital broadcasting. We note that at DoCoMo’s 900i preview, there were stacks of “Idol” (read teenie/ girlie) contents under development by some well-known names, contents that caress, shall we say, the boundaries of soft core with, of course, no nudity.
For many, however, the sight of Japanese teenagers who, despite probably all being over 18, often look—or are made to appear— much, much younger is in itself deeply problematical and, however you call it, voyeuristic.
While what is permissible may offend many in the West (and be deeply offensive to many Japanese as well) the gulf between carriers and content providers obviously irks Grindel tremendously and Playboy is thinking hard how to drive its successful German i-mode contents services to other areas. Grindel didn’t moan, he didn’t whine, but he did make some telling points about how the mobile industry has to rethink some of its business models.
It was also an absolute pleasure to talk to Tomi Ahonen who is able to put the most positive spin on the darkest of situations. In the upcoming show we’ll get to give you the full spectrum of his latest ideas about how mobile services are promulgating themselves all over the world, and some interesting cross-comparisons between the European and Japanese markets.
And now to Soleitec
We were happy to talk to Soleitec: President Lee’s beaming smile was bright enough to light up the solar panel recharging solutions his startup presented at the conference. While the flip-out, clip on panels seem a bit bulky, they are almost as light as a feather and we think they are on to something. A wearable clip on solar panel might be a great party piece (providing you are under halogen lamps) but more seriously, a surprisingly little amount of light is needed to activate them.
Various major mobile makers have been experimenting with solar panels on cell phone bodies, but they have all suffered several obvious disadvantages that Soleitec appears to have overcome.
Solar panels can’t work tucked away in your pocket (unless somebody comes up with a shoulder epaulette strap?) and, of course, when you are holding your phone, you are covering the solar cells, which are probably pointed at the ground anyway. Another disadvantage is, as Soleitec consultant Byung Sung O pointed out, fragility; your average mobile phone is designed to survive a tumble, but solar cells fracture.
The heaviest model of the four weighs no more than 110 grams, with the other three at about half that and can recharge at 18.104.22.168/3.6V at between 120-360mA (for the minimum version) and up to 800mA for the ripped version at 1 Sun. When clipped on to a jacket, the displays seem to weigh nothing.
Do they work- yes they do. Are they inexpensive? Yes they are: about $30 max, says Lee. Can you get hold of one: Unknown—they are looking for partners to take the product mainstream NOW.
– The Editors.