Commentary

On Technology

By Phil Baker

High-tech gift guide

Here's my inaugural high-tech gift guide which represents products that I've found to be best in class or most novel, listed in no particular order.

The best mobile computer yet

Ever since Toshiba created the first successful notebook computer in 1985, companies have been striving, and mobile users have been longing, for the perfect portable computer -- something capable of doing everything they would do on a desktop, but small enough to take everywhere.

Declining Comdex

Comdex, held this past week in Las Vegas, was a shadow of its former self. Comdex had been the PC industry's venue for showcasing new products.

Another communication breakthrough

The best-selling book, "The Innovator's Dilemma," by Clayton M. Christensen, talks about the inability of major corporations to foster innovation, noting that major breakthroughs more often come from small entrepreneurial companies.

A trio of smartphones

Mobile phone and PDA manufacturers have been trying to come up with a single device, called a smartphone, that combines a cell phone, PDA, e-mail capability and Internet access into something close to the size of a phone. While there have been numerous attempts, few have succeeded with just the right compromise of size and features, and sales have been disappointing, at just a few of percent of all phones sold. However, expectations are high for 2004, with some recently introduced products and more on their way.

Timeless technology

In this age of electronics, mass production and rapid product obsolescence, you might be surprised to learn of a resurgence of a product category that relies on handmade parts, hand finishing and hand assembly, much like the traditions dating back to the 19th century.

Office 2003 for Windows

This past week Microsoft introduced its new Windows Office 2003, the 11th version that now has 400 million users. So how good is it and is it worth upgrading?

Why Fi?

During a recent flight I came across a full-page ad by Qualcomm in the United Airline's in-flight magazine, Hemispheres. It shows a businessman using his notebook computer in a coffee shop. The headline reads "There are places where you can have Wi-Fi access while drinking a latte. This isn't one of them."

Traveling with technology

For those that enjoy the latest technology, traveling presents some great opportunities to find even more gadgets to make your trip more enjoyable. I'm in the midst of a 10-day, three-country business trip that includes visiting the major electronic shows in the Far East, and have been trying out some useful products that I can recommend.

Entering and recalling information

One of the benefits of computers is automation of tedious and repetitive activities. For more than a decade, there have been products to scan information from business cards and automatically enter the data into the computer, avoiding tedious typing.

Two new innovative products

I've been evaluating a number of new products that I will be reporting on in future columns. While I receive many products, my criteria for reporting on them is to select those that are either best in their class or new offerings that are of interest to a broad audience.

A report from DEMOmobile 2003

This week San Diego played host to DEMOmobile 2003, one of the more interesting and influential conferences covering mobile products and technology. DEMOmobile, held yearly, provides a preview of some of the most significant products and services in the wireless and mobile products markets. Past companies that debuted new products at Demo include Palm (Nasdaq: PALM), Google, H-P (NYSE: HPQ), IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Handspring (Nasdaq: HAND).

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Phil Baker

Phil Baker is an expert in new product development and market development for large and small companies. He has held senior product development and marketing positions with Apple, Polaroid, Seiko, Proxima, ...

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