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Mundie Keynotes RetailVision ’99

Among the usual highlights of RetailVision was the keynote address, given at this spring’s event by Craig Mundie, Microsoft’s senior VP of consumer strategy.

During Mundie’s speech, an adaptation of his CES address, he said the dream of “computing everywhere, connecting everything” is the vision Microsoft has of the future, enabled through home networking, intelligent appliances and smart objects.

But “fundamentally, we’re still at the earliest stage of having all devices connect,” Mundie acknowledged. The reality of complete connectivity, aided by the Universal Plug and Play initiative that is now supported by 54 vendors, is fraught with challenges. For example, there must be simplicity, reliability and privacy, he said, as “we’re asking the population to trust all of this personal information to be out there.”

Connectivity also must be meaningful to consumers by providing personal security, convenience, communication and community. “Chat rooms are the highest usage facility of online services,” reported Mundie. But up to this point, the level of convenience people desire on the Net has not been achieved.

Mundie noted that intelligent appliances such as palm-size PCs and handheld PCs are also flourishing. “These categories continue to prosper, not only with business people, but everyone,” he said, adding that 2.5 million Windows CE and WebTV appliances have been sold, and more than 90,000 Windows CE developer kits have been downloaded.

The AutoPC is also finding its place with consumers as the first aftermarket car computer, he said. “It will be a dealer-installed option by year’s end, and by model year 2001 a number of car companies will make this option available. With the car, we are moving beyond traditional computing.”