Miami - While Toronto is being clobbered by yet another snowstorm, I'm in ultra-hip South Beach for the M3 Summit, March 23 to 26. Short for Miami, Music and Multimedia, the four-day annual event merges music, technology, art, fashion and multimedia into an integrated lifestyle.
Like southern Ontario's World Electronic Music Festival, the M3 - with a tech component courtesy of Motorola - is an orgy of loud music, dizzying lights and parties that climax in the afternoon and don't wind down until sunrise. Here, however, WEMF 's candy ravers dancing about with pacifiers and baggy fluorescent pants are replaced by blonds with fluorescent tans.
As at any open-bar event, guests quickly form cliques and good manners get tossed out the window. Toronto-based Access Mag drops my real name altogether, calling me "You fucking Korean" for the entire trip, while I call him "Aren't you too old for this?"
Nobody's too old for the new technologies that Motorola plans to launch soon.
Smart posters, for example, are regular concert posters embedded with a smart tag. When you put your mobile phone up to them, you can download songs and information about the artists and purchase tickets to their upcoming shows.
The cost of the tag is unavailable, which could be a bad sign, but Motorola promises that the technology will be cheap enough to cater to small, independent bands along with all the Britneys.
Motorola's iRadio service makes your music collection mobile with Bluetooth technology. You'll be able to listen to your MP3s and Internet radio seamlessly between your computer, stereo, cellphone and car radio. Like TiVo, you can pause and resume Internet radio content, organize playlists and purchase songs instantly on your car radio or cellphone.
Motorola is focusing intently on converging music and mobile phones, simply because the synergy between the two is already apparent. Cellphones are already connected to the Net, so Motorola's offering on-the-go music, ring tones and other customizable options for sale directly to your mobile phone, hoping to build a customer base of impulse buyers.
There's already been a hiccup in the master plan. I was drooling to see the newest Apple iTunes-enabled phone that would let me buy music from the immensely popular iTunes Music Store. But just days before the M3, both companies announced a delay, and a collective sigh reverberated throughout the geek community. Motorola remained tight-lipped about the entire ordeal whenever the subject arose during the Q&A.
Whether these technologies will be a success remains to be seen. Known for innovation (it was the first to produce car radios and flip phones), Motorola likes to think it's blazing trails and creating trends rather than following them.
During a keynote speech, the moderator confidently asked the tech-savvy audience, "How many of you already customize your cellphone with ring tones, screen savers and such?" Only a few hands rose, to his noticeable surprise and diminished enthusiasm.
He asked with authentic curiosity, "How many of you don't care for customization at all?" Nearly every hand shot up.
"Wow. Good thing you guys aren't our core audience."
If a roomful of us technophiles isn't their target, then just who is? If most normal people can't even figure out a goddamn universal remote control, a multimedia-rich mobile phone might leave them shivering in a fetal position under the bed.