My introduction was written in the car on the way to the venue that morning (only a four mile trip) so it is far from polished, but the gist is certainly correct.
Lee: Good Morning and Welcome. I am glad that so many of you could all make it. It seems we have a full house. Which is not a bad start to a new event.
It's a special day. It's a day when a line is put in the sand. And we say. We've had enough. We've had enough lack of innovation.
The telecom innovation space has been stagnant for at least a decade and the opportunities during this time have grown so great, that we need forum, a community.
What we want to do is to gather like-minded people. People who are interested in enabling, expanding, and pushing forwards innovation around the field of communications.
We've already had the VoIP revolution. It's done, now it is time to move on. VoIP brought us the tools to democratize voice. But it is only that - a tool. Alone it is neither profitable nor exciting. And don't take my words for it; look at how consumer traction has been so poor. And that is for a reason - quite simply it does not meet any new user needs.
We need to build something far more changing - Something further reaching - Something far more transformative.
The telephone itself is dead long term. What replaces it - is a device - which combines content, information access, entertainment, ecommerce as well as ever expanding modalities of communications. Voice probably takes a secondary position in that multi-modality suite. So we are talking about a device which is clearly not a phone.
I'm not sure of what words we will use to describe this new platform. I've got a non-sexy description, that I use - a "relationship lifecycle management" device. I don't think marketing will like that. Relationships going forwards become the number one foci. You can kind of see it this way - the WWW has been about connecting pages. The future is in connecting people, not pages.
So I repeat the telephone is dead. That was a hard wired application. It makes no sense today. It's very primitive, distractive, cumbersome. Rather the replacement is something that understands your social life. It looks out for your best interests. But that is a long term vision. A socially aware, small form factor (or wearable) piece of networked computing equipment - which is used to discover, search, share and transact across the planes of what we now call information, content, ecommerce and communications.
I said what we call now - because they will become so fused, that it gets hard to distinguish one from the other. When information, content, ecommerce and communications fuse on the device, we are in a new world, entirely. It's exceptionally exciting and there is so much opportunity there.
But we're not there yet. The last 12 months have shown promising direction though. The iPhone was released and it was tightly locked. But a high school kid spent the summer cracking it. Hacking iPhones went critical and Apple was forced to open it up and release an SDK. We're talking about a phone that runs a computer operating system.
The FCC stated that the next block of radio spectrum would only be allocated to an open network. Google announced first that it was willing to spend billions towards such open spectrum. And we're talking about a search company.
Google also released Android, a new open mobile phone operating system. Another 30+ companies joined the Open Handset Alliance including T-Mobile and Sprint. Even Verizon, and AT&T made PR noise about becoming open networks.
So quite clearly the landscape is shifting. The power of innovation is shifting towards the edges. Operators are loosing control of innovation. Their centralised model does not work any longer. What they need to do is to facilitate edge innovation. To build winning ecosystems around it.
This conference, has gathered those interested in innovating around communications. We want to move it out of the stagnant space and we want to prosper from the opportunities.
On that note, I wish to introduce my co-chair, Dr Norman Lewis who was the former Director of Technology Research for Orange-France Telecom until 2007. He is now the Chief Strategic Officer of a new startup, called Wireless Grids Corporation.
Norman: Good morning everybody and a very warm welcome. Thank you Lee. I'm not going to take a lot of time, I just wanted to make one simple point and it is this. I thought this morning when I got up why go to another bloody conference?
There are so many of these damn things and we all traipse around the world. I think the reason why we are here is because of who is here. It's not just the speakers it's the audience.
What I am interested in during the next three days is networking with all of you. To really talk about innovation, about how we can take this enormous opportunity that we have in front of us, how we can translate this into real new applications, products, businesses, entrepreneurship, Etc.
I think that is what this conference is about. It's about really making a difference in the real world, really seeing the opportunities, exploring the opportunities that now exist in how we can reinvent voice, how we can reinvent telephony and communications.
If that is your objective I think it will be a very productive three days.
I am not going to say anymore. You will hear more from me later today and throughout the rest of the conference. Very welcome, hope you enjoy it, thankyou.