Friday, March 18, 2011

SxSW recap

Wow! South by Southwest was huge this year! This was my third time in the past 4 years. In that time, registration exceeded 3x the attendance only 4 years ago. It's been discovered. Still the conference was wonderfully nourishing (thanks to my dear friend, Delphine, for that description) for both mind and soul. 4+ days of innovation, creativity, and entreprenuerial spirit by nearly 20,000 participants.

There didn't seem to be a breakout technology this year like twitter or Foursquare/Gowalla in past years. If anything, here are the trends:

  • The iPad made it's debut as a hardware platform. Tt was definitely a pro Apple crowd-PCs were in conspicuously low profile even with HP and Microsoft with concourse displays. I predict next year will have a number of sessions talking about the future of tablets, touchscreens, and this new platform.
  • The entreprenerial spirit. Panelists and participants talked about life in a startup. Bizspark had a competition among several startups. Despite the rough economy (maybe becuase of it) small businesses were alive..and maybe well. At least they were surviving. And on the larger front, Groupon is thriving, facebook is huge (still), and there are many emerging and established not-so-startups waiting to go public.
  • Mobile. Everyone knows this will be huge but is not sure how to implement it yet. Lots of great sessions on apps, gellocation services and small screen design. Next yeat this will be huge once we figure out mobile commerce.
  • Game-ification. Making everything have some type of game. I think this is a fad but there were a number of sessions about it. No, not everyone wants to this, people! The tech community spends a lot of time navel gazing, I think,
The City of Austin was also a clear winner. The area around the convention center has been discovered by both temporary corporate marketers and permanant local businesses as a good place to set up shop. 20K people returned to their corner of the world to spread the word about how great Austin's scene/weather/people are. (Please, don't move here. Visiting is great!)

On the personalization front, there were a few panels that addressed issues around data privacy, recommendation engines, and push for relevancy. Had a stimulating conversation on a panel hosted by a rep fro Bazaar Voice and Zaaz on exchanging value for privacy and what that means to the futgure of e-commerce.

Thanks to the organizers, volunteers and participants who keep this such an energized and valuable confernece. I highly recommend everyone attend...well its seems like most already do. Soon it will be so crowded, nobody goes there any more.

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