"It was somehow appropriate that the ubiquitous cell phones interrupted press conferences and served as tools to locate co-workers at Spring Internet World 2000. The giant trade show, which ended yesterday, underscored what has been apparent for some weeks - that technology's future is wireless.
"Dozens of start-ups, as well as powerhouses such as IBM, America Online and Hewlett-Packard, showcased products that promise to deliver stock quotes, news and shopping right to cell phones and hand-held devices.
"We're seeing a huge shift to the mobile space," said Sean Maloney, Intel's senior vice president for marketing and sales, in a keynote speech Thursday. "Geeks are doing it right now. The rest of us will be doing it over the next two years."
"Maloney's speech followed addresses by America Online Chief Executive Steve Case and Intel Vice President John Patrick, who set the wireless tone by describing the Web-anywhere future.
"Maloney's predictions included scenarios in which American teenagers, like their European counterparts, would send instant messages and e-mail using their cell phones and other hand-held devices. Other consumers, meanwhile, would carry briefcase-size wireless pads for accessing the Internet, making it as intuitive as the TV.
"Also sticking with the theme was Ajei Gopal, chief technology officer of IBM's pervasive computing division.
"It's like the hunter-and-gatherer comparison," Gopal said. "With (wireless computing), you're more of the hunter, targeting specific information, as opposed to being a gatherer on the Internet, merely browsing."
"Gopal used a car accident to illustrate the point. A wirelessly networked car would send messages to an insurance adjuster, police and the ambulance dispatcher's office all at the moment of impact.
"At Hewlett-Packard, the company has undertaken a "Mobile E-Services" initiative to develop wireless applications and convert existing ones to the new platform.