Guest editorial: Is Portland behind when it comes to mobile?

[Editor’s Note: In a brief flash of humility, I came to the realization that there were any number of experts here at our disposal in the Silicon Forest. Experts who have important things to say. Experts who can help us place the Rose City and the Silicon Forest within the context of a larger picture. Experts who are—quite frankly—more interesting than just little ol’ me.

And with that, I decided that some other viewpoints would be valuable. So welcome to a new feature on Silicon Florist: guest editorials.

First up, please welcome Jason Grigsby of Portland-based Cloud Four.

Knowing full well that one of Jason’s areas of expertise was mobile, I asked him “What’s up with mobile? And how is it going to play in Portland?” And he has graciously replied.

If you find his take interesting (and I know you will) make sure to peruse the mobile series he’s writing for his company’s blog. Or, you might seriously consider attending his presentation at Portland Web Innovators on Wednesday, February 13.

Ack. Looks like my intro is rivaling the length of the content. So, with that, I’ll hand you off to the honorable Mr. Grigsby. Grigs?]

Is Portland behind when it comes to mobile?

People keep asking me whether Portland is behind when it comes to mobile?

I would have never thought to ask this question. If we were behind, what would we do with this information?

Better yet, who would we be behind? San Francisco? Austin? Poughkeepsie?

We might be behind Chicago if Katherine Gray’s out-of-town guests are correct. She wrote to me on Twitter to tell me that her friends wondered why they hadn’t seen many Blackberries in Portland.

Apparently, we specialize in the kind of blackberries that grow on the side of roads and not the ones you carry in your pocket. (Actually, this isn’t true. Oregon’s largest employer, Intel, provides Blackberries as standard issue, and I’ve seen many other business people with them as well.)

If we are behind, what would be the proper measure? The percentage of mobile phone users per capita? The number of smart phone users?

Perhaps these metrics would tell the story. Unfortunately, city-specific data isn’t available.

In the absence of data, I have to fall back to my original, knee-jerk reaction: Of course Portland is behind. The whole country is behind.

In Europe and Asia, both consumers and businesses are more savvy when it comes to utilizing their phones.

  • In Japan, South Korea and China, more people access the web via mobile phones than via PCs.
  • Finland-based Nokia claims 40% of the worldwide market for phones—by far the leading phone manufacturer.

Portland is no more behind than the rest of America. This is one technology surge that we’re late to the game on. And with 3.3 billion mobile devices and growing, it represents the most widespread technology in the world—far surpassing PC, credit cards, and televisions.

Fortunately, there’s still time to catch up before things really take off. Things are lining up for 2008 and 2009 to be big years for mobile. Portland has the perfect combination of technical and creative communities to explore what is possible in this new medium.

I’m excited to see what Portland produces for the Mobile Web.

Jason Grigsby is a founder, Vice President, and Web Strategist at Cloud Four, a Portland-based Web consulting firm focused on Web, Mobile and emerging technology. For more information on Grigsby and Cloud Four, visit Cloud Four. To RSVP for his Portland Web Innovators talk, visit Upcoming.

Silicon Florist’s links arrangement

Sometimes, a link says more than I could ever say. Here are some fragrant little buds I’ve found recently, courtesy of ma.gnolia.

WebMD’s Acquisition By Parent May Not Occur; Outlook Lower on Yahoo Fears | paidContent.org

Granted, WebMD is not a startup. But its behavior affects the startup community. With a substantial presence in the Portland tech community, WebMD has a number of former employees starting and joining startups in the Portland area.

WebMD (NSDQ: WBMD), the online health information service, may not be sold back to its parent firm HLTH Corp, due to a “negotiation stalemate”, according to the companies. HLTH owns about 84 percent of WebMD. The two companies indicated in November last year that this transaction would occur, to give its shareholders more say in the WebMD business.

Ignite Seattle Talks

Ignite Seattle will be taking place next Tuesday. And here’s the final listing of Ignite topics from our neighbor to the north.

SEMpdx President Kent Lewis & Board Member Todd Mintz Are (Portland) On Fire

For Portlanders, this is a great way to get other Portlanders to know you better and we encourage all Portlanders reading this blog post (including our other board members) to participate.

Community: NI Developer Zone Community

National Instruments has launched a community powered by Clearspace X from Portland-based Jive Software. The community allows users to discover and collaborate on the latest example code, tutorials, textbooks, and more with a worldwide community of engineers and scientists. Share development techniques, learn about cutting-edge technologies, and connect with LabVIEW and other NI product experts working on similar applications.

Central Oregon Blogger Meet-up

Central Oregon Web Professionals Usergroup, aside from having the most memorable acronym ever with “COWPU,” is hosting a blogger meetup, February 21 in Bend.

Twitter Blog: Do You Want Sandy?

I Want Sandy, the service from Portland-based Values of n that I continually mention in a not-so-discrete effort to gain a stranglehold on the search term “anthropomorphic digital assistant” the way Marshall Kirkpatrick owns “internet brain implants,” gets a mention on the Twitter blog for Sandy’s integration with the ever popular microblogging tool.

Local Portland Tech Start-up Coverage

A little egosurfing here. As part of my effort to spread the word about all you Portland-area startups that I love so dearly, I’ve been lucky enough to pick up a writing gig for another Portland-focused pub. I’m honored to be the first U.S. writer for this Canadian blog.

View all my bookmarks on Ma.gnolia

Toonlet releases embed code

Portland-based Toonlet, the tool that will not only have you writing your own comic strips in a matter of seconds but will also have you using ‘toons as a social networking function, has released an embed code for Toonlets you create.

Okay, geek-talk, what exactly does that “embed code” mumbo jumbo mean?

It means that you can now create strips and then easily insert them into Web pages and blog posts.

This will definitely help folks spread the word about the Toonlet service and will likely increase the adoption. Not to mention increase the value of the social networking features built into the tool.

I’m so excited about it, I’m thinking about making Toonlet a regular part of the Silicon Florist. (It’s a little wide, but this is the first release. Relax.)

http://toonlet.com/embed/strip?i=4989

For more, visit Toonlet.

Silicon Florist’s links arrangement

Sometimes, a link says more than I could ever say. Here are some fragrant little buds I’ve found recently, courtesy of ma.gnolia.

iCal, gCal, we-all-Cal with iCal

I Want Sandy is getting her Cal on. Do you Gcal? Think inside the 30 Boxes? Outlook (Windows) or iCal (Mac) more your speed? Take your I want Sandy calendar (and to-dos too) with you to any calendar capable of subscribing to remote calendars using the iCalendar standard.

View all my bookmarks on Ma.gnolia

Silicon Florist’s links arrangement

Sometimes, a link says more than I could ever say. Here are some fragrant little buds I’ve found recently, courtesy of ma.gnolia.

Allen Stern Places Bet on Portland, Loses

Center Networks hosted Rick Turoczy Wednesday and asked him to dish about his man-crush on the Silicon Forest. Portland’s one-day moment in the sun was spectacularly dashed on Thursday, when the Gray Lady brought truthiness back into vogue with the article Seattle Taps Its Inner Silicon Valley. Tech hasn’t seen this kind of MSM smackdown since Walt Mossberg’s early-onset senility in 2005 when he suggested that Apple wasn’t the True Faith Incarnate.

View all my bookmarks on Ma.gnolia

Silicon Florist: Share your project so I can share your project

I try my best to stay on top of what’s happening in Portland—and the Silicon Forest, as a whole. But much to my chagrin, I must admit that I’m still haunted by the feeling that I’m not covering all that I could be.

I get the feeling that there are still a whole bunch of cool side projects, new Web apps, interesting blogs, amazing companies, and brilliant people that aren’t even on my below-the-RADAR RADAR here in the Silicon Forest.

So, I’m going to ask for a little bit of help.

I’ve thrown together a quick submission form to capture some information about what you’re doing. So that I can add you to my watch list.

You know your project well enough. It should only take a few minutes. So enlighten me.

Even if I happen to have covered you or your projects before, I would encourage you to spend a few minutes filling out the info. Maybe I flubbed your positioning? Maybe you’d prefer another URL? Maybe it would be nice to have me following you Twitter?

Whatever it is, please take a few minutes to share your project with the Silicon Florist, so that I, in turn, can share it with all of the folks who are deeply interested in that cool project upon which you’re working.

Thank you. I look forward to hearing about what you’re doing.

Waxy.org: It’s back and now it’s part of Portland

A few of us here in the Portland area use a little event planning and RSVP service called Upcoming. Actually, at least 600 of us. You might remember Upcoming as the place where Ignite Portland was the second most popular event, next to SXSW. Or you might not.

Either way, what does Upcoming have to do with anything? Isn’t that a service owned by Yahoo!?

Well, yes. But—stick with me here—before it was purchased by Yahoo!, it was one of Andy Baio‘s projects. But not his only project. Another one of his projects has been waxy.org, a popular tech blog. And while publishing was a little haphazard during Baio’s stint at Yahoo!, postings are back on now.

So what does this have to do with Portland? Well, Baio lives in Portland now. So waxy.org is officially a Portland pub. So you should be reading it.

At least that’s the story with which I’m going.

(Hat tip Marshall Kirkpatrick)

Beyond the Forest: OpenID adds Microsoft, Google, Verisign and IBM

With the wealth of OpenID thought here in the Silicon Forest—thanks to folks like JanRain and, soon, Vidoop—any efforts surrounding OpenID are likely to have a significant impact on our tech scene.

When you add names like Microsoft, Google, Verisign, and IBM, [Update: And Yahoo! says Scott Kveton] (I linked all of those, in case you haven’t heard of these folks) that purported impact becomes a foregone conclusion. With today’s announcement, you can rest assured that if you’re in tech, OpenID will affect you. No question.

Scott Kveton, Chair of the OpenID Foundation, has a great roundup post on all of the folks covering this announcement.

Some of the highlights?

Portland’s own Marshall Kirkpatrick advises that the news, while momentous, should be taken with a grain of salt:

All of that said, big vendors have a lot of short term interest in controlling identity silos. It won’t be easy to get their long term interests in openness to prevail. Fortunately, they are participating but are in the minority on the OpenID Foundation board.

Allen Stern of CenterNetworks (Who, as luck would have it, recently featured a brilliant and insightful article on the Silicon Forest… Um. Ahem. Where was I?) maintains that, despite these heavy hitters, the problem for OpenID to solve remains less technical and more educational:

I continue to stand firm that what OpenID needs is marketing more than technology. Yahoo’s implementation of YahooID last week is a good move towards adoption of OpenID across the Web.

And Michael Arrington of TechCrunch offers that for all the excitement, how “openly” the solution is implemented will be the true test of the commitment of these tech giants:

But it’s not clear that any of them are in a hurry to become a “relying party” (allowing users with third party OpenIDs to log in to their sites). OpenID looks like it’s going to be a winner, so big companies making their user accounts OpenID compatible is a good hedge. Everyone, of course, wants to be an ID issuer, since they get to “own” the user. Less attractive is allowing users from other sites to log into your services, so don’t expect that functionality to come for some time.

From the vantage point here in Portland—especially with our wealth of OpenID expertise here—I maintain that this could herald the start of a very important upswing for our community. One in which Portland and its OpenID providers have the opportunity take a leading role on an international stage.

I, for one, am anxious to watch this story develop.

Silicon Forest and the Identity Management Working Group

Sometimes, I get pretty focused on OpenID-flavored identity management. But there are other startups in town working on a different type of identity management. The kind that involves your offline existence. (If there is a such a thing.)

The Santa Fe Group, a respected consultancy focusing on fraud reduction, has just announced the formation of its “Identity Management Working Group.” Among the group’s top concerns will be the growth of business identity theft, in which bogus entities use existing business names to compromise business accounts.

And the group has two Silicon Forest ties, one direct and one tangential.

First, the direct. Rick Kam of ID Safeguards, a Beaverton-based startup focusing on the identity fraud protection and compromised identity recovery, has been named the chair of the new organization.

“Collaboration is a critical component of curbing identity theft ,” said Kam. “This group will work together and with the industry at large to share knowledge that will find new and effective ways to protect us all.”

Second, the tangential. CheckFree, parent company of recently acquired Hillsboro-based startup Corillian, is also part of the working group.

Interesting news for the Silicon Forest, and perhaps the early rumblings of an opportunity.

What if all of the “identity” focused folks here in town got together and started working on this whole problem? I’m thinking these fraud protection folks, the Portland-based OpenID folks like JanRain, and the soon-to-have-a-Portland-office, rethinking-online-credentials Vidoop folks could have a pretty interesting conversation.

Silicon Florist’s links arrangement

Sometimes, a link says more than I could ever say. Here are some fragrant little buds I’ve found recently, courtesy of ma.gnolia.

Keiretsu Forum for Portland, February 15

Venture capital firm Keiretsu is starting to make inroads in the Portland VC scene. It will be interesting to see what comes of it.

The start-up – doing the right things well

Thanks to Ignite Portland, I’m now reading Chris Logan, a recent Bay-area transplant. Here’s an example of his passion for startups: “I don’t understand why people make startups so complicated. Successful startups do the right things well. This means there are only two things to do: (one) figure out the right things; and (two) do them well. All the other stuff doesn’t matter. “

Seed Oregon about to bloom

Florists love blooms, you know. Mark your calendars. The finale of Seed Oregon is set for February 13th at the Bridgeport Brewpub. This round will determine the overall winner of the Seed Oregon competition and will also determine who goes on to compete on March 5th at Angel Oregon 2008 where there are serious investment prizes at stake.

Metroblogging Portland Meetup – Feb 20

the Green Dragon has some of the best fries in Portland. And we’re springing for food!

Portland Metblogs Meetup.
Green Dragon
SE 9th/Yamhill, 1 block south of Belmont
Wednesday, Feb 20, 5:30ish to whenever.

Businesses for an Environmentally Sustainable Tomorrow

Via Kevin Spence at Portland Small Business: The BEST Business Center, from Portland’s Office of Sustainable Development.

Portland-based Lunarr gets TechCrunch coverage

There are essentially two value propositions to Lunarr: first, the wiki-like functionality and second, the document-associated messaging system. In both the short and long runs, the messaging system provides more competitive value than the wiki functionality.

CenterNetworks: What Web Life Is Like In Silicon Forest

Thanks to Allen Stern of CenterNetworks for offering me a guest spot on his blog to showcase some of the interesting things about the Silicon Forest for a much broader audience than I tend to reach.

JanRain releases code for accepting self-issued InfoCards

Today JanRain released an important piece of code to help enable web applications accept Microsoft Information Cards. It’s a Python library and PostgreSQL database interface that uses libxmlsec and OpenSSL. This code does not depend on any Web framework, and the database implementation should be easy to generalize.

My secret is a dashboard for each side of the firewall

Jive Software’s Sam Lawrence shares a secret: “One of the biggest questions I get is how I manage to do my job and seem to stay on top of the blogosphere, Twitter, employees, breaking news, and competitors. Assuming you believe I’m actually doing my job, I thought I’d share how I stay on top of all the rest.”

View all my bookmarks on Ma.gnolia

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