Techies agree the future belongs to wireless


Herald Writer

Psst. Wanna know about the next big thing?

Forget the personal computer. Think wireless communication.

That’s what some of the biggest minds at some of Seattle’s biggest technology and venture capital firms agreed Tuesday during a panel discussion assembled by the Associated Press for area business editors and writers.

"The cell phone is truly the thing that will change everyday life," said Richard Tong, a partner in Ignition Corp., a venture capital firm. "It will change the way everyone lives and works."

Tong, a former longtime Microsoft employee who describes his job as "dreaming big", has five cell phones and a monthly bill that runs about $500 to $600.

He said those cell phones are worth every penny.

Unsnapping a tiny phone from his belt, he let his fingers do the walking to a service that accessed his office e-mail and started reading it to him in an understandable voice. He also arranged to have some electronic documents faxed to the next stop on his schedule by sending a few simple commands through the keypad.

"This phone is four times more powerful than the original personal computer," Tong said. "Think about that the next time you make a phone call to your mom."

Paul Bialek, chief financial officer of Real Networks of Seattle, also sees a world where wireless communication is king. His firm is already the world leader in delivering music and other media over the Internet.

He said new wireless Internet devices will change the way we entertain ourselves by giving us anytime access to whatever we want to see or hear.

"Think of the notion of a record store open 24 hours a day, seven days a week on your street corner and everyone else’s street corner," he said. "It’s going to be very, very fascinating."

Bialek said cell phones are considered a luxury in the United States, but noted that many developing countries are finding it cheaper to erect wireless towers and skip the idea of linking everyone with telephone wires or fiber optic cable.

Because cell phones have snob appeal, usage in the U.S. is low in comparison to other countries, Tong said, noting that only two out of every five Americans has one. But that means the potential market is large, he added.

He said Seattle is a "great lab" for technological innovation because many of its residents work in the field. And the wireless companies with headquarters here may help lead the revolution.

"It’s likely that Seattle will be the next wave," he said. "Seattle is the place for the wireless Internet."

Bialek said that wave could come quickly as growing usage around the world drives down cell phone costs.

"We’re going to wake up some day and say, ‘Wow, how did that happen,’ " he said.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A view of one of the potential locations of the new Aquasox stadium on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024 in Everett, Washington. The site sits between Hewitt Avenue, Broadway, Pacific Avenue and the railroad. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
20 businesses could be demolished for downtown Everett stadium

Some business owners say the city didn’t tell them of plans for a new AquaSox stadium that could displace their businesses.

Kathy Purviance-Snow poses for a photo in her computer lab at Snohomish High School on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Snohomish, WA. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
To ban or embrace ChatGPT? Local teachers fight AI with AI — or don’t

“It has fundamentally changed my teaching in really stressful and exciting ways,” an EvCC teacher said. At all levels of education, ChatGPT poses a tricky question.

In this Feb. 5, 2018, file photo a Boeing 737 MAX 7 is displayed during a debut for employees and media of the new jet in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
FAA gives Boeing 90 days to develop plan to fix quality, safety issues

The agency’s ultimatum comes a day after a meeting with CEO Dave Calhoun and other top Boeing officials in Washington, D.C.

Two troopers place a photo of slain Washington State Patrol trooper Chris Gadd outside WSP District 7 Headquarters about twelve hours after Gadd was struck and killed in a collision on southbound I-5 about a mile from the headquarters on Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
State trooper killed, 1 arrested in crash on I-5 near Marysville

Authorities said Trooper Chris Gadd had been stopped along the freeway around 3 a.m. near 136th Street NE. A Lynnwood driver, 32, was arrested.

A man walks by Pfizer headquarters, Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, in New York. Pfizer will spend about $43 billion to buy Seagen and broaden its reach into cancer treatments, the pharmaceutical giant said. (AP Photo / Mark Lennihan, File)
Pfizer backs out of Everett manufacturing plant after $43B Seagen deal

Pfizer finalized the acquisition of the Bothell-based cancer drug developer in December.

Madi Humphries, 9, Rose Austin, 13, and Eirene Ritting, 8, on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024 in Bothell, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
No grades, no teachers: Inside a Bothell school run by student vote

Each day at The Clearwater School, 60 students choose their own lessons. It’s one vote per person, whether you’re staff or student.

SonShine Preschool inside First Baptist Church Monroe is pictured Friday, March 1, 2024, in Monroe, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
SonShine preschool in Monroe to close at the end of the year

The preschool, operated by First Baptist Church, served kids for 25 years. School leadership did not explain the reason behind the closure.

Providence Hospital in Everett at sunset Monday night on December 11, 2017. Officials Providence St. Joseph Health Ascension Health reportedly are discussing a merger that would create a chain of hospitals, including Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, plus clinics and medical care centers in 26 states spanning both coasts. (Kevin Clark / The Daily Herald)
Following lawsuit, Providence commits to improved care for Deaf patients

Three patients from Snohomish County sued Providence in 2022 for alleged Americans with Disabilities Act violations.

Cars drive through snow along I-5 in Snohomish County, Washington on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024.  (Annie Barker / The Herald)
In March, 7 p.m. sunsets are back for Western Washington

Washingtonians will finally start seeing more sun starting March 10. But a little more winter could be on the way first.

One of the parking lots at Stevens Pass Thursday afternoon on December 30, 2021.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Stevens Pass to charge $20 for parking reservations on busy days

Two-thirds of spaces will remain free for early arrivers on weekends. Cars with four or more occupants can also park free.

Days after shootout with Lynnwood police, suspect checks into hospital

Police learned the 18-year-old was in a hospital in Portland, Oregon. His alleged role in the shooting remained unclear.

Snohomish County pharmacy tech accused of stealing 2,500 opioid pills

Rachel Langdon stole oxycodone while working at a Snohomish County pharmacy, according to state Department of Health allegations.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.