TechCrunch 50 Language & Platform: Swype Wows Panel


AlfaBetic: Monetizing across languages. Not sure how / if this works... but scaling content across various languages is a big business (if done technically) for big companies like eBay that operate in dozens of countries. Localizing content is immensely difficult and costly. So should this work (and demo isn't clear) it is powerful. Om: whose translation engine do you use? Answer: engine is internally built with emphasis on different locales. What's your accuracy rate? Answer: depends on domain and location - but 80-90 percent.

Om: How many ads can you serve per page there because the bloggers really control that?

Tim: how is this actually done - does blogger need to buy another domain name? (very good question...). Answer: we are interested in a syndication play where we become the portal (bloggers won't sign up for this, in my opinion).

Josh: what are the costs involved in monitoring / cleansing each post? Answer: $1,000 in all langauges per month for all TechCrunch.

Om: I wouldnt use this. If we went international, we would do it dedicated (like TechCrunch) and focus on each location.

Tim: I wouldn't use either - for the same reason.

PostBox: desktop email application. The presentation has a bizarre sound metronome behind it... I can't hear a word they are saying... OK - that was not their noise. He handled it very well - hilarious.

Josh: Question: Do you support POP, Exchange, etc? Answer: Yes: IMAP, POP, SMTP.

Tim: How far have you pushed it scale-wise? Will it support my 10,000s of emails? Answer: we have tested internally and it supports 30,000 messages to date...

Evan: Looks great but is it enough to combat the massive move from desktop email to web-based?

Tim: this is less an email client and more like a personal information management system. I look forward to trying it.

Om: Gmail is convenient and plugins make it easy to mimic what you do but in the browser? How do you get paid? TIm jumps in and says it could very well be Microsoft purchase.

Half the audience raises its hand saying they would download and try it.

Swype: "we will change how people input text on screens." He is drawing a line through a mock qwerty keyboard and swiping series of letters that it renders into words based on clusters of lettering (I think). Appears to be very forgiving. Corrects common mispellings. This is pretty amazing. The ties onto smaller keyboards is clear (video games, laptops, touch screens, gps, etc). Not sure how it works with symbols, caps, etc - all things the iPhone really struggles with. This is killer. Now the demo is wihtout a stylus - he used his finger and it about 50% the speed but still pretty slick. Demo moves to smaller screens (a Windows Mobile cell phone) and its slower than either the Blackberry or iPhone.

By the way... there is an iPhone app that exists already that does this.... not sure how quality stacks up - but it's exactly the same for the iPhone.

The panel tries to swype and Evan says "it's mindless." Josh asks if it will really work without a stylus? Answer: it works best on a screen designed for touch (like iPhone). Jason asks about characters and shifiting (my question): Om: These companies are notoriously difficult to partner / get to market with (speaking of Nokia, etc). Answer: you can approach both the carrier and the OEM... and the iPhone has created a pressure for non-iPhone decks to include better feature sets. Om: sell to Micrsoft now. Josh: isn't this a patent mine field? (great question).Answer: we believe its a strength not a weakness considering our history.

Dropbox: Synchronizing file sharing, updating and portability.

Tim: why isn't this a feature with Google or Microsoft? Evan: Microsoft has a product called FolderShare - how does this compare? Answer: we add a web interface and team dynamic. Josh: I like the user interface. How do you deal with multiple people editing documents at same time (big issue for software like Collab, Trac, Google)? Answer: not really an answer. Has to be manually resolved between versions.

Devunity: the panel is confused as to what it is... good, makes me feel better.

Quick panel recap - favorites:

Josh: Swype. For user experience, its great. Evan: Swype. Looked brilliant and big need. Difficult business though. Tim: Swype. Challenging biz-dev problems but interesting bet. I'd like to try out Postbox though. Om: Swype. By far the most practical.