Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Web 2.0 Exposition, New York City

On Thursday, 18th September 2008, I was fortunate enough to gain entrance to the first Web 2.0 exposition to be held in New York City. The event, which has been held for a number of years in California, was my first experience of a trade fair. Although the event was clearly targetted at those involved in the trade, I was intrigued by the number of organisations present whose sole business was the provision of web 2.0 technology. The experience allowed me to gauge the acceptability of new media technologies in current business. Although I missed several of the key note speeches held, I was able to experience several presentations conducted by organisations in attendance.

One of the event's most intriguing presentations was held by Microsoft. The booth introduced Microsoft's Surface device; a computer resembling a coffee table. The device, a touch screen personal computer that emphasises community, fascinated me. I was particularly interested in the potential for the device. I observed the machine's ability to 'read' objects placed upon the screen. Examples included the ability to read bank cards, pre-programmed objects, and doctor's registration cards. A particular example involved a shopping cart application. Users could shop at a given outlet, and place their card on the table top to have the sum deducted from their account.
With a price tag of around $12,500 I was a little confused about who the device was targetted at. Although the product was clearly concerned with community creation, the majority of the functions explored offered little functionality beyond what users are currently capable of achieving through more traditional technologies. To suggest that there is not a market for the device is invariably naive. The success of the Wii clearly illustrates the potential profitability of community, however the current price tag for the product will limit the number of individuals able to purchase a unit. Microsoft must ensure that the product offers sufficient innovation to warrant the expense incurred to purchase such a device.

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