It's day one at BREW 2005 in San Diego and this show is moving at full speed. Last night, BREW opened with an outdoor carnival, complete with ferris wheels and stilt walkers. During my chats with a few analysts and reporters, one theme was clear: BREW not only survived, it thrived. When Qualcomm unveiled BREW at CTIA in 2001, most pundits and analysts (including yours truly) thought the technology would be crushed by the mobile version of Java, J2ME. While J2ME has clearly taken off, so too has BREW. Carriers around the world, including Verizon Wireless in the US and KDDI in Japan, have proven that BREW can generate mobile content revenue for both carriers and content providers. And while BREW's penetration is nowhere near as high as Java's, the technology continues to gain traction.
I did, however, hear some criticism from developers. Some I chatted with claimed that BREW suffers some of the same device fragmentation and interoperability issues that plague J2ME. One developer in particular stressed that writing for BREW is not easy and that the platform does not do everything it is supposed to. All criticisms aside, most of the feedback I picked up was positive, especially from content providers.
Now on to this morning's sessions. During the opening remarks, BREW 2005 turned into a smaller version of E3 with huge projector screens and booming music. Suddenly, actors appeared all over the auditorium as an imaginary mobile gaming scenario came to life. Actors decked out in lavish costumes jumped on to stages, repelled down ropes, and ran through doors as they battled it out across the room.
After the "fighting" ended, Peggy Johnson, president of Qualcomm Internet services, took the stage. She introduced the theme of BREW 2005: "More with BREW." The real theme, though, seems to be "More, More, More," which, roughly translated, means more BREW-based content, more market segment, and more services.
In her speech, Johnson stressed the importance of mobile gaming, especially 3D games, to the success of BREW. She touted Qualcomm's new games distribution partnership with EA. In addition to games, she pointed out how BREW can be used to create applications for the enterprise market. Johnson also touched on how BREW is impacting developing wireless markets, such as India and Brazil.
As Peggy Johnson wrapped up her speech, a mysterious figure in black Ninja mask repelled down from a rope to the stage beside her. The figure quickly unmasked: It was Qualcomm's CEO-elect Paul Jacobs. Jacobs thanked Johnson and shifted into his keynote address. During his remarks, Jacobs stressed two new initiatives for BREW: improving user interfaces and creating better market segmentation.
The key to both is Qualcomm's new UI effort, uiOne. The new interface is designed to let carriers push content services to users in an easier to access form factor. The new UI platform is also designed to be scalable so carriers can create different UIs for different market groups. Jacobs and a few of his colleagues demonstrated how different UIs can push application uptake for different market groups, such as professionals or the youth market. Jacobs also touched on MediaFlo, Qualcomm's upcoming mobile TV service. MediaFlo will play a key role in BREW's evolution.
Stay tuned for tomorrow's issue, when I will give you the scoop on the rest of today's events along with tomorrow's news. - Stephen