"How many of you use the wireless Web for anything more than e-mail?" a panel member asks. Fewer than half raise their hand. Still, they are clearly eager to learn about the future of the wireless Web from such luminaries as Raj K. Gupta, president and founder of YadaYada, a wireless Web portal; Bob Greene, managing partner at Flatiron Partners, a venture capital firm that specializes in the Internet; and Jason Devitt, CEO and cofounder of Vindigo, a city guide for PDAs. "M-commerce is not e-commerce," Devitt says, noting that many people aren't likely to actually buy things on their devices. You can't replicate the PC for ease of use and security. The key to mobile commerce, he says, is helping the consumer find the nearest store. Couldn't have said it better myself.
As the wireless discussion breaks up, I ponder what to do next. I never did get a ticket to Annie Get Your Gun, and it's a little late to just drop by. I consider seeing a movie and tap on Moviefone on my Palm. Quills is playing at 8:45 across town at the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas. I might have time if I rush, but I want to make sure tickets are available. I try to buy a ticket online at Moviefone.com but am foiled once again: "Due to technical difficulties, we are unable to process your request at this time." I call my editor to complain. He suggests that my blood sugar is probably low (I haven't eaten dinner), and I should order a pizza on the Palm. I don't think it's possible. Instead, I flag down a cab and start checking my Palm version of Zagat's for restaurants near my hotel. A restaurant called Felix is just down the street. Despite complaints of "actress-model waitresses" in the review, I decide to try it out.
Zagat's was right. Our waiter at Felix was more interested in chatting with friends at the bar than in taking our order. A service rating of 15 out of 30 was generous.
Collapse in a heap. Dream about wireless devices.
Next day 7:45 a.m.
Wake up feeling guilty that I have failed to get anything for my husband, who has been holding down the fort. I try OmniSky but again fail to get a connection. Pull out my phone, tap on Amazon.com and look for Radiohead, Kid A, a new CD recommended by Caroline, my New York friend with whom I had had lunch yesterday. Gaining some dexterity on the tiny screen, I tap in my e-mail address and choose one-click shopping. Amazon tells me: "Entering an unsecure area." I forge ahead, press buy and wham, I have made my first wireless purchase. I feel unsure that the CD will ever arrive at my home, and I have visions of hackers capturing my credit card number and assuming my wireless identity. Still, I am strangely exhilarated. Would I do it again? Probably not. (Wrong. Two days later, I bought a book on Barnesandnoble.com's Sprint PCS site.)