Mobile Innovation Week kicks off in Toronto

The City of Toronto is the centre of attention for both the film and mobile industries this week as Mobile Innovation Week (MIW) officially kicked off Monday, a few days after the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

“For one week, Toronto will be the centre of the mobile universe,” said Michael O’Farrell, co-founder of Mobile Innovation Week and founder of The Mobile Institute, a Toronto-based organization, in a statement.  

MIW, now in its second year, is featuring more than150 speakers at venues across the city including The Carlu, Glenn Gould Studio, the CN Tower and the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. MIW organizers expect over 2,000 people to attend.

It’s a festival of opportunities for people to get a better understanding of how to leverage mobile, said O’Farrell in an interview with ComputerWorld Canada. And right now, it’s very important that Canadian businesses get involved in the mobile space.

Mobile business opportunities extend to not only the nearly 30 million Canadians carrying mobile devices, but also the nearly 300 million mobile subscribers in the United States, as well as other countries around the world, he pointed out. 

“By Canadians really looking at their business and understanding how different aspects of their business can leverage mobile … they are also learning how to grow the business or entrepreneurial spirit,” said O’Farrell.

Canadians have a few advantages in the mobile space, according to O’Farrell. “We were the first country in the world that had all three carriers selling the iPhone, for example. That was very unique and created a whole new wave of people thinking about how we can use these devices,” he said.

Wireless carriers now offer coverage to more than 99 per cent of Canadians and at the end of June 2010, there were 23.4 million Canadian wireless phone subscribers, according to MIW.

Canada has one of the best network infrastructures worldwide and is very fluent in the telecommunications space, said O’Farrell. Citizens are “very aware of how to leverage all the broadband and all the communications that Canada has to offer,” he said. 

Understanding how to leverage that talent, along with Canada’s cultural diversity, can really change the business dynamic of any enterprise or social community service by “touching people in the palm of their hands,” he said.  

And Canada’s talent, combined with its cultural diversity and “friendly” global reputation, provides companies further opportunities to do business in other countries, he said. India, for example, has close to half a billion mobile subscribers and about 30 million are being activated every month, he said. 

The MIW week-long series of mobile-related conferences and events officially runs from Sept. 13 to Sept. 18, but kicked off over the weekend with a Hack-A-Thon for developers interested in using the city’s open data for mobile app development.

This year, there are six key events: IN|10 Interactive Exchange (Sept. 13-14), MXD: mobile experience + design (Sept. 14), MobileBiz BootCamp (Sept. 15), Mobile ThinkTank (Sept. 15-16), Mobile Media World (Sept. 16-17) and FITC Mobile 2010 (Sept. 16-18).

“The mix is actually pretty complete,” said O’Farrell. “Some people would say it’s sometimes overwhelming,” he said.

Keynote speakers include Wade Oosterman, president and chief brand officer of Bell Mobility, to Duncan Stewart, director of research at Deloitte Canada, to Stephane Marceau, chief marketing officer at Yellow Pages Group. 

O’Farrell recommended the Mobile ThinkTank as the “sweet spot” for the IT community and Mobile Media World particularly useful for those in marketing. 

Tickets can be purchased separately for each event. For a 10 per cent discount on tickets to Mobile Media World, Mobile ThinkTank and MobileBiz BootCamp, enter the code MIW.  

MIW is sponsored by the City of Toronto and co-produced by The Mobile Institute, FITC, Interactive Ontario and the Mobile Experience Innovation Centre.

O’Farrell, also a co-author of Mobile Internet for Dummies, founded MIW with Shawn Pucknell, director of FITC; Gary Schwartz, chair of the Mobile Entertainment Forum Americas and president and CEO of Impact Mobile; and Ian Kelso, president and CEO of Interactive Ontario.

Presenters include: Adenyo, Bell Mobility, the Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC), comScore, Deloitte, Ericsson, Google, IDC Canada, KPMG, Microsoft, MyThum Interactive, OCAD University, RBC Financial, Research In Motion (RIM), Rogers Communications, Samsung, Sybase, Sympatico Mobile, The Globe and Mail, Visa, and Yellow Pages Group. 

Follow me on Twitter @jenniferkavur

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