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TechNet event focuses on future

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Wireless, wireless, wireless, broadband, wireless, personalization and more wireless. That's where we're headed, folks, at least according to the valley's top business leaders. We were lucky enough to attend TechNet's innovation summit at Google headquarters today. It was a star-studded event, with John Chambers, Eric Schmidt, John Doerr, Terry Semel, Bill Joy, Carly Fiorna and many others on hand. We won't go into too much detail about what they talked about because you'll do better to watch the event on national television later this week. TechNet scored a coup by getting PBS talk-show host Charlie Rose to moderate the event's four panel discussions, and Rose taped them as segments for his show. We're told they'll start airing sometime later this week, perhaps as soon as Tuesday. Some highlights:

Charlie Rose is deft with the patter. Taking in the quartet of Schmidt, Semel, Chambers and Intel's Paul Otellini sitting on stage for one session, he quipped: "God, the power we have on this panel. We could take over the world.'' To which an audience member replied. "They already have!"

Rose then made the execs run through the market caps for their respective companies. Total market cap on stage: $385 billion.

Chambers: "The key to Cisco is how well do we transition...We'll be moving into storage networking. We'll be moving into wireless, we'll be moving into security. Hopefully, there'll be a Cisco phone on your desk."

Schmidt on wireless: "It's by far the biggest leverage point in technology....Instead of people being paged, they'll be sent a message, "Where are you?' "Well I'm at this store," and then they'll send a map of where the store is to their friend. And the computers will automatically know that, if you want them to know where you are."

Schmidt on a super iPod: "It's clear the killer application is information search. The next killer device is going to be a personal one. The one I personally favor is putting all the world's information into the equivalent of an iPod, which will be possible in the next five or ten years. And literally carrying it all with you. And if you can't quite do that, your wireless connection will allow you to get to everything else. So all of sudden, think about how different education is, how communication is. Someone will say something, and you'll say, "Well let me check that and see if it's true!"''

Otellini on wireless: "I really think the interesting thing about wireless is what it can do for bringing the rest of the world into the Web, into the connected world. Things like the WiMAX technology that allow you to basically put broadband coverage over an entire city is in trials. And you can start thinking about how you can take this into rural areas, or metropolitan areas and bring this capability to individuals who couldn't get it anytime soon. It could have a profound impact or implications for the United States.''

Schmidt on personalization: "Now is the time to make big bets on where technology is going to go...The biggest bet is trying to get more people to personalize local search, to get their local life integrated into their search and online experience. And it's a big bet because there's a lot of people in the world, especially with all the international components. So we think a lot about how much that will cost us (Google) and how important strategically it is for us. Because ultimately, the Internet is about people, the individual and the little world they live in, as opposed to the broad world we see. In that sense Terry (Semel) and I are in complete agreement that this is an end-user consumer-focused business."

Chambers: "I think the biggest bet at Cisco is how broadly do we cast our net. Do we move beyond just providing the transport and intersection with the Internet and move onto storage and security and IP phones and wireless and the whole marketplace?"

Bill Joy, on the personalized mobile web; "I'd like to know when I'm traveling to New York, which of my friends are there at the same time. Or if there's a concert I'd like to go to, I'd like to know when the band is coming to town. And I'd like these things presented to me in a way that's not too disruptive of my time. I get an email that says my son has to go to a class and I need to get it into my calendar, I'd like it to be a little more automated. I think it becomes a business opportunity. We need a hot device. For the pocket device, the Treo is roughly the first one that's hit the mass market, so that's why we're close...(What's holding us back, Rose asks.) "It's the price point. $600 is a lot.''

Our story in today's Mercury News is here.

Photo by Robert Sorbo via TechNet. From left to right: John Chambers, Paul Otellini, Eric Schmidt, Terry Semel, Charlie Rose.



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