Last night, a mixed bag of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, publicists, and geeks flocked to a lecture hall at Manhattan's Cooper Union for the 2006 year-end edition of the NY Tech Meetup, hosted by Meetup founder Scott Heiferman himself. Okay, it wasn't really a mixed bag, as I was one of about a dozen females in the room. (CNET TV's Chris Parker taught me that the proper term for such a situation is "brodeo.")
Usually the NY Tech meetup consists of six five-minute presentations by local entrepreneurs. But last night's event had a special appearance by author and Newsweek technology editor Steven Levy, who was there to talk about his new book "The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture and Coolness." Levy talked about some pretty interesting stuff, like how he thinks the recent wave of collaborative, user-generated, open-source projects (I'm avoiding the use of "2.0" here) reminds him of the Homebrew Computer Club of the '70s that basically brought us the PC as we know it today.
But in the question-and-answer session that followed Levy's short book talk, the first point raised was the Apple rumor du jour, the "iPhone." (Please, please, please let the real name of the product be more creative.) Unfortunately, Newsweek's resident iPod expert--Levy's been covering the product from day one--didn't know much. "I wish I knew about the Apple phone," he said with a sigh, but he added that he didn't seem to think that a January release was unreasonable. And his recommendation for Cupertino? He thinks that Apple ought to "rethink the phone in the same way that they rethought the MP3 player." Well, duh.
The best part of Levy's talk, in this Craver's opinion, was when he talked about showing Bill Gates an iPod at a Windows XP launch event back in 2001. "It was like a sci-fi movie," he said, with a sentient extraterrestrial silently "sucking" information from a manmade object.