The second day of presentations at DEMO are now over, and again the various blogs and press reports are everywhere describing this or that product from the 70 or so companies that presented. As some of the presenters have noted, the real trick while being here is to compete for (a) press coverage and (b) money -- and you're competing against the other 70+ companies here, rather than your traditional competition. So, my summary post for Day Two is pretty simple: "Isn't this just like ______, but with ______?" An awful lot of the presentations today (and, yesterday) could be described this way -- as long as you fill in the blanks properly. There was very little that seemed amazingly new. Most of the ideas are ones that have been seen before (sometimes many times), with slight modifications -- sometimes just cosmetic ones. And, in some cases, those modifications were so minor as to appear trivial. In talking with one company, it was easy to rattle off three or four names of similar startups coming up with similar, if slightly different products on a similar theme. The guy I spoke to diligently described how each one was different -- but it was always in such a marginal way to seem sort of silly. No end user was going to make a decision based on that. The other thing I noticed was that a number of companies were tackling similar problems that other companies have worked on for years, but coming at it from a different angle -- sometimes leading to presentations where the setup was "have you ever had problem X?" where the real answer is "no, not really, that was a pretty minor issue that we've already worked around, and we're certainly not going to spend a bunch to paste over that one fault of our existing system and need to retrain everyone." Still, one thing that you hope, in seeing all this stuff that's been talked about over the past decade, but this time with a fresh coat of paint, is that maybe (just maybe), it actually works this time.
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