Thoughts from an entertaining first day at the Web 2.0 Summit:
The afternoon started with a lunch during which seven start-ups pitched new business propositions to a board of investors. Being an avid viewer of Dragon's Den, I have to say that I ended up a little underwhelmed. Very few of the pitchers seemed well equipped to deliver a compelling story, and the ideas seemed to all be a little bit samey. The board would have been far more entertaining if they'd been a little more direct with their views… where's Peter Jones when you need him?
On then into the main ballroom, and after introduction, a conversation with Eric Schmidt of Google. He unveiled a new addition into the Android hardware set of some sort of (I think "NFC") chip that, in the future, will enable payment akin to the way in which we today use credit cards. The mission to catalogue the whole world's data seems to be spinning out into "and all the transactions too". Of personal interest was any real absence of discussion about Enterprise… of slight concern to a CIO who's moved his whole organisation over to apps this year. I guess that the economics of advertising just make everything else pale into insignificance for Google at the moment.
Up next were a panel of three – one from PayPal, one from Amex, and one from another supplier Square. Lot's of talk about the future of online shopping, but it did feel a little bit like the manufacturers of Cash Registers talking about retail…
The most unexpectedly interesting part of the day came with an interview with Robin Li, the man behind Baidu, China's number one search engine. The sheer scale of the Chinese market is mind-boggling.
The last main speaker of the day was Neil Smit from Comcast. They are just announcing an iPad app – but I have to say that it made what the BBC have done already with iPlayer look all the more impressive.
Dinner then came along with fireworks – Ari Emanuel a Hollywood talent mogul and a man not afraid to voice his opinions. Tim O'Reilly (possibly one glass of wine too far gone) when head to head on views about the worth of talent and content. It's obvious that there is a lot of animosity between Hollywood and Silicon Valley (Pixar excepted…)
And so on to day two…