A number of new consumer devices launched at this year's DEMOfall. The hands-down stunner of the bunch was the Sirius Stiletto 100, a potentially viable competitor to the iPod.
ZING partnered with Sirius Satellite Radio to develop the Stiletto 100, the first portable satellite radio with WiFi. This music player allows listeners to can pick from all of the genres and channels of Sirius content, and then to play it live. TiVo-like timeshifting is also possible - play can be paused and picked up again later. Users can also bookmark songs as they play, enabling their later purchase or download. This consumer device had everyone buzzing following the stage demo, and collective groans followed the tantalizing wave of a shrinkwrapped package. Though attendees were hoping that there would be a surprise giveaway, the company was merely letting us all know that the product is available both in stores and online this week.
RingCube launched a surprisingly interesting consumer device. Their demo of MojoPac kicked off inauspiciously with the comment that they would start a "new personal computing paradigm." (groan) But then the guys did something cool - they booted up a personal PC environment from an iPod, and they did so across a number of host devices. MojoPac runs from other devices (e.g., USB drives) as well, and sits alongside the host's native environment. Though this device would be useful for consumers, the company is initially positioning this as a solution for computing in developing countries.
There were also two consumer device launches that I found comparable to the alpha version of chumby, which launched at last month's FOO Camp. Chumby is a consumer device that uses a wifi network to download Flash-formatted content; here's a snapshot of today's launches:
- Presto. This device supports a service for sending and sharing photos and e-mail with non-tech-savvy friends and family members. Rather than connecting to a home network like chumby, Presto connects directly to a phone line, a la Ceiva. E-mails are actually sent as scanned jpegs, so the service is really sending photos every time. In addition, great-grandma's spam gets blocked because only her approved, white list senders can get e-mail through. KPCB and Clearstone have put $10M into this business, so it's clearly a well-funded competitor.
- Violet is the creator of Nabaztag, a plastic, electronic rabbit (seriously) that provides information, entertainment, and personal messages. Interestingly, the Nabaztag does not use a screen of any sort. Messages are communicated by the rabbit's flashing lights, how he twitches his ears, and so on. Today's launch revealed a new Nabaztag model that interprets voice commands; request New York City weather, and the Nabaztag will look it up and announce it for you. The company demonstrated carrot-sniffing, weather lookup, and music play - services that are nice, but not going to drive my purchase - but states that it is actively adding new services and content.
Presto strikes me as targeting a substantially different audience than chumby; essentially, if someone has wifi, they're a chumby user; if they have no Internet access or are using limited dialup service, then they're a Presto user. I'm not quite sure what the best audience for the Nabaztag is - it feels more like an art object than a device that provides an information service. e.g., I'd look for a Nabaztag at the SFMOMA store, but not at Best Buy or Target.
There are more device launches scheduled for Wednesday, so look out for a followup post.