The Mobile Camera-Phone: Your Portable Input Device

You’ve been carrying around your phone for a number of years now. What have you done with it, really? Used it like a regular phone, like everyone has. You call people. Maybe in the past couple of years you have had a Treo or equivalent and use it for e-mail. And most likely the most recent mobile phone you purchased has a camera. What did you do with that feature? Me, I took a few photos of my close friends to make them appear on the screen when they called, e-mailed one test photo to a friend, and then became bored and stopped.

That’s all changing. Already your mobile camera phone is transforming from a two-way radio into your portable input device. Now you can take a picture, e-mail it to Flickr, and post it to your blog. Soon we’ll be able to do the same thing with video, not just still-photos. Mobile blogging interfaces and adoption have some ways to go, but we are already starting to see how user-generated content can be enhanced by mobile contribution. Add location-based services into the mix and things get really interesting. Google’s Dodgeball is only the first step in tagging location meta-data to content. And that’s just the beginning. Once we view our phones as a portable input device, a whole new world opens and novel uses unfold. On U2’s concert tour this summer, the band is asking attendees to SMS their name to a short-code, and everyone’s name appears on a giant screen later in the show. Companies like Mobot are using the camera phone to search visual images and point users to relevant information.

Is the mobile phone the new mouse?

David Beisel

David Beisel is a co-founder and Partner at NextView Ventures. He has been focused on early stage Internet startups his entire career, both as an entrepreneur and venture capitalist. As an investor in the digital media space, David was most recently a Vice President at Venrock and previously a Principal at Masthead Venture Partners. Prior to becoming a venture capitalist, David co-founded Sombasa Media, an e-mail marketing company best known for its flagship product BargainDog. Sombasa was successfully acquired by where David served as Vice President of Marketing. David holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and an AB in Economics, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from Duke University. He also founded and leads the Boston Innovators Group, an organization which holds quarterly entrepreneur events drawing a thousand attendees.