Cooking Capsules

A blog about the evolution of Cooking Capsules.

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Name: Mary Ann
Location: San Francisco, United States

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Techcrunch "Mobile Wars" Roundtable

I had a great time yesterday at the Techcrunch Roundtable and party.

It should be said that I would do a few things differently if I could do it again- namely, be on time. I arrived a little late (post introductions) and had to navigate where on the panel I was to sit. I'm not gonna lie. I felt bad and was quite embarrassed. I waited it out a bit in the audience until I could sneak up and claim my seat (once I could spot where it was, which was a task). Once I achieved that and began to decompress, I managed to get a few words in edgewise.

This panel definitely dispelled any myth that women talk too much (although this post might not). I probably should have been prepared for the Hardball style format, as the name of the thing was "Mobile Wars". I can't help but wonder if it were a panel of 19 women and one man (if there was a way to find 19 female mobile industry execs) how it would have been different. Firstly it might have been called "The New Mobile Landscape or Ecosystem" and perhaps it would have been a more nuanced discussion, rather than the framing some of the panelists put around it with statements like "Nokia is irrelevant" and "I need Android like a hole in the head". The responses I have to those statements: "Nokia is by no means irrelevant" and "Maybe you don't need Android, but the industry does."

That said, it was an incredibly impressive roster of people on the panel, and the opinionated shop banter was very entertaining. Squeezed (quite literally) in between a Yahoo exec. and the CEO of Loopt, I think it's safe to say I was the newest to the industry on the roundtable.

As a sef-titled "Overnight CEO", I'm admittedly not too practiced at public speaking- it is a fear I am facing and a skill I will need to develop, as I am increasingly being asked to speak. I did alright. I said a few things (besides umm). Here are some things I said followed by some I would have said if...umm... I'd pursued the airtime/possessed the finely honed interrupting skills of some of my distinguished colleagues:

Here I would have elaborated on Android and the other platforms.

I said on the panel, "it is hard to know where it (Android) is going". This is true, but should have been paired with: Android (which hasn't even come out yet) is changing the mobile landscape and creating a domino effect of companies opening up the industry. This is no small task (so cut them some slack), and while it remains to be defined what 'open' will mean, since there are many players with many interests, Android will run through multiple carriers on multiple handsets. This is extremely significant. It is very akin to what Microsoft did with Windows, that Apple didn't do (But of course I view Android as becoming a superior OS to Windows).

Apple is extremely successful, even if they are only a fraction of the market, so for them tying software with only their own (brilliantly designed) hardware made sense. Apple tying themselves exclusively to one carrier (ATT) in the U.S., well, that only made sense in the context of a closed environment, which it was. This closed environment is only now shifting- and again, the shift to a more reasonable and open environment, it seems, is being spearheaded by Google, the O.H.A., LiMo, and now Nokia with Symbian. Not to be ignored or flippantly disregarded is the global market share and importance of Nokia, and it is extremely interesting this move they've made recently to buy Symbian.

Even Apple's app store, or at least the timing of it, seems to me to be a reaction to Android. Greater openness is the promise of all of these companies and alliances, but there are undoubtedly many layers of politics, there is bandwidth ownership, there are carriers who are going to have to take an immediate creative and progressive approach if they hope to remain relevant, and there are a ton of companies who want to get in on distribution. Who will win? Whomever is the most realistic, flexible, forward thinking, strategic and progressive.

Okay so I would have said some of that and maybe more. If I could have. But there Was. No. Way.

Also I would have addressed Robert Scoble's comment (which I didn't at all, but it's posted below) on the missing apps and opportunities. Political and travel were two he mentioned. He's so right. There are loads of lifestyle utilities missing from the space now. It is saturated with certain categories, and there is room for so much innovation. I wonder where all of the useful utilities are? That is why I came up with Cooking Capsules. People eat. People are confronted with the question of what to eat. Everyday. People are busy. People would cook more if it was made easier. Games can make life fun, but good mobile utilities will make life fun and easier. I agree, Robert! Where are the useful apps? There are a few out there, but they are still missing, as Robert says, from many wide open categories.

And when that question from Twitter came in, and Erick re-phrased it to be essentially the question he asked of a VC on the panel before (What is missing? What categories aren't people thinking about that they should be?), I answered it with four words. These I would not change. They were the most interesting set of words I'd said all day. And given the audience reaction, I guess they agreed.
(for context see the minute from 2:20-3:20 in the below clip)

I stand by it.

It's true.

Erick Schonfeld will cook with his phone.

Big thanks to Erick, Techcrunch and the event sponsors.

It was an honor and a blast.

-Mary Ann

ps- Next time, should there be one, I will be annoyingly early, speak up more (read: interrupt), and will undoubtedly have more to say about Android and the industry (since a lot happens in mobile in a week, month and year).

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