Zeebo, Zeemote, and Zinio liven up CTIA

CTIA This year’s CTIA conference in Las Vegas was lacking luster in both attendance and truly innovative solutions.  Present were the usual suspects such as the obligatory “Watch Phones” which we have seen year after year, but never seem to make it into the consumer markets.  Rows of vendors hawking glittery phone sleeves for every phone produced since the Motorola Brick.  And suction-cup phone mounts for every possible occasion…

Fortunately, amidst the unending piles of wireless headsets, I was able to catch a few good “Zs”:

Zeebo: Gaming for the next billion: This compact game console is being targeted at emerging markets that have limited broadband penetration.  Traditionally, in these markets, tapping into the communal aspects of on-line gaming and the ability to try new games are frustrated by the lack of available broadband connectivity.  This innovative console circumvents this problem by leveraging the ubiquity of cellular communications by employing a SIM card as the core networking component.  Just like popping a new SIM into your phone to access a local phone network, this console communicates with the global gaming community through a cellular connection.

In addition to ports of popular console games from PS2, Xbox, and Wii, the 1GB console employs a Qualcomm chipset that supports BREW-based applications.  This potentially gives the console the ability to run thousands of game, multi-media, and commerce apps developed for Qualcomm phones.

The console is set to debut in Brazil in June.

Zeemote: Unleash your game. This very cool Bluetooth joystick allows you to wirelessly control game play on your Cellphone.  The small yet comfortable design fits easily in a pocket, and is surprisingly nimble during gameplay.    However, what I really found intriguing, was the ability to use the device as a navigation tool.  Because it essentially simulates the phone pad’s cursor-keys, you can joystick your way around your phones menus and apps.

Couple this with some sort of Head-Up display connected to your phone (Like a pair of MyVu Vision Glasses) and I can easily envision this product breathing new life into some tired old phone apps…

Zinio: Be well read. A little out of place at CTIA, Zinio is a distributor of online magazines.  Their core business is to digitally reproduce the printed copy of your favorite glossy magazine for paperless consumption via web browser.  A commendably Green initiative all print publishers should be considering.  Firmly established as a leader in the industry with over 300 publishers using their services, Zinio reaches an audience of over 3.5 million readers.

What I found most interesting, was their model to extend the ad inventory of the publications by layering in interactivity over formerly static print ads.  And per the rep at the booth, this interactivity can apply to the story content as well.  By providing this intermediate layer between traditional print and on-line interactive, Zinio seems to have the right formula for helping publishers transition into the digital realm while at the same time creating new supportive revenue opportunities.

Zinio Mobile Newsstand was one of the earliest web apps designed for the iPhone.