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Eye For Travel TDS June 2010

I attended the Eye for Travel TDS Summit last month in London and found the sessions lively and informative while the conference provided some great networking opportunities. The most enjoyable general session was about mobile which had consecutive presentations from Google, RIM, Facebook and Nokia.  For those who were not following my tweets, here are some of the highlights from that session:

  1. Robert Hamilton, “Productchef” at Google London emphasized the value of search on mobile for travel and did a series of demos using Google tools:
  • Voice search
  • Point and search technology using the phone’s camera and compass
  • Zero click search using the phone’s accelerometer
  • Immediate voice translation from English to German
  • Using Google Goggles to translate a French menu to English
  • Navigation and driving directions

2. Lesley Hay from RIM

  • Showed a stat that 99% of apps are not used. Given the low level of downloadable app adoption on BlackBerry this was an interesting stat to emphasize
  • Showcased Worldmate and Tubebuddy as examples of traveler friendly apps

3. David Parfect from Facebook

  • Emphasized the importance of providing relevant information to the user on mobile devices
  • Stated that 70% of Facebook traffic is outside the US with 100+ million mobile users accessing Facebook
  • Showcased the integration of TripAdvisor with Facebook’s Social Graph

4. Robert Rogers from Nokia

  • Talked about the Nokia NavTech acquisition which includes an ability to download a map that reduces the need to refresh limiting network traffic for mobile navigation
  • Stated that Mobile is not ideal for search

I wish I had snapped a picture of Robert Hamilton’s facial expression when Robert Rogers stated that mobile is not ideal for search. It was priceless and a surprising comment considering the fact that Google’s prior presentation was all about mobile search.

Overall here are my take-aways from the session. Google definitely has a travel focus.  Combine that with last week’s ITA Software acquisition and I believe Google will be incorporating some very interesting travel apps rolled into the native Android platform. Rim Blackberry though still the dominate corporate device is struggling with the app store concept and is not showing any leadership in the travel space. Nokia, though still the largest mobile device manufacturer seems to be in a catch-up mode as far as smartphone devices and apps. Mobile access of Facebook is huge, but David did not address the growing value of location based networking apps such as Foursquare.   Visibly absent from the panel was a representative from Apple (a tough company to get on any travel panel). It would be good to see a discussion of their iTravel patents and better understand their plans for using the mobile phone for travel.