Wireless warrior turns a new page

Wireless warrior turns a new page

Wireless evangelist Luigi Cappel has moved into the world of ebooks, while also predicting great things for car-based mapping and location finding devices.

Now, the evangelist for wireless and mobile technologies expects the IT community and the channel to help promote and supply them.

Cappel is well-known as a founding member and President of the NZ Wireless Data Forum, which evolved into the Wireless and Broadband Forum.

He also wrote an ebook ‘Unleashing the Road Warrior’ that was distributed to Renaissance Brands resellers in digital format.

Cappel has just joined the board of ReadingIT Corporation as marketing director, a company that aims to increase the range of reading matter to the electronic reading world.

Company founder and managing director Fred Stewart now has a team of four making manuscripts available electronically by forming links with publishers, plus distributor Renaissance Brands.

Renaissance distributes Palm handheld devices, which make suitable readers of ebooks; and it was through its general manager Mark Dasent that Cappel met Stewart.

“Instead of evangelising and looking at the industry, I have now plunged into it personally,” Cappel explains.

“The market is huge and growing quickly. Right now you can buy books from most authors in an ebook format that is typically digital text, but can also be in the form of an audio book, which you can listen to on your MP3 player or stereo.”

Many authors fail to get their works published, often turning to ‘vanity publishers’ who make the author pay and arrange everything. Instead, the online world allows much cheaper publication as there is no need for physical printing and distribution. already has several ebooks for sale on its website, with talks underway with other publishers.

“There are some scenarios, such as education, where I believe ebooks will become huge. New Zealand universities already distribute many readings in digital formats for students to download. Depending on the reader software, digital books will allow you to find and search words or strings, annotate, bookmark, highlight and do all sorts of things without damaging the book,” he says.

Cappel calls on the IT community to “join the evolution,” believing this sector will be first to understand the medium, though it is open to all genres.

Despite this move into ebooks, he remains business development manager for GeoSmart Maps, a division of the Automobile Association, developing and promoting new wireless offerings.

This follows earlier work as sales director for IT Link, which introduced Saleslink and other products for sales and service automation in the field that used handheld devices integrated with accounting packages. Cappel helped introduce the product to Telecom who branded and marketed the product through its channels.

Now, at GeoSmart Maps, Cappel is supplying vendors and resellers requiring accurate mapping data a ‘full turn restriction database.’ Customers include Navman, Siemens VDO, Telecom’s Locate Plus and Xlerate.

“We provide the web mapping application programming interfaces (APIs) used by companies from Wises and AA, to Ministry of Education, Bayleys Real Estate to smaller sites such as the Chateau and Stihl. This is a rapidly growing area and I’m currently flat out running seminars for web developers around New Zealand, who we wish to partner as our resellers,” he continues.

Cappel says he has spent years evangelising wireless technologies that are now becoming mainstream. Location and finding technologies are the next big thing. GeoSmart Maps is already a market leader, supplying the Vodafone Live Smartfind service that gives directions on cellphones to users seeking the nearest facilities such as cafés, restaurants or public toilets.

“We are going to bring some really exciting concepts to market that will be leading edge and will enjoy mass adoption. I am helping GeoSmart and our resellers make the things that I predicted into a reality,” he says.

Cappel says it’s ‘watch this space’ in the wireless world, as further new products and services arrive.

“We want resellers, so if you are thinking of developing an application that has an element to do with location, talk to us. Location is everywhere and we are now allowing people to interact. I am here, what is around me, who is near me, where can I go, what can I do, where can I eat or buy a new pair of shoes, who has a mobile promotion?” he says.

“Of course, with ReadingIT I can also sit down at the café I found on Vodafone Live and read my book on an iMate. I am so excited about the future of this space. I said it would happen and now I am participating in its future. Wires, copper and being tied to location are a thing of the past. A bit more speed would be nice though.”

Q + A

Favourite website:

How can I just pick one? Probably Music Forte

Favourite gadget

This changes by the week. Right now my car navigation devices. I have four different models in my car from three different brands. The man who dies with the most toys wins...

Favourite cocktail

Bourbon and dry – it’s not a cocktail, but it’s as close as I’ll get.

What book is on your bedside table?

Kill Phil: The Fast Track To Success In No-Limit Hold ‘Em Poker Tournaments by Lee Nelson and Blair Rodman.

If you could have coffee with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?

Paul Simon.

Favourite sports:

Poker! Also skiing, sailing, land-yachting and then watching rugby, especially this year!

Who is/was your mentor?

Marketing strategy guru Richard Gee of Geewhiz.

What’s been the most important technological advance in IT?

Wireless data access from a historic point of view. From circuit switch (we did some amazing things even with mobile dial-up), through to CDPD and GPRS to where we are today. In a relatively short time we have gone from being stuck in the office to being able to work remotely anywhere, anytime.

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