Sites We, Ahem, Can't Live Without
Here are five killer apps to change the world, offered to you at the Internet's favorite price -- free -- just to prove that we have barely scratched the surface when it comes to doing ordinary things in a deviously more complicated way.
• You hold your personal digital assistant next to your car's steering column and a sensor in the column contacts a geodesic satellite, which beams your location over the Internet. This initiates an Interactive Voice Response call to your cell phone to tell you why you are stuck in traffic in the first place.
It's called wheretheheckamI.com. (All URLs in this article were in use at the time of publication.) We make money by, uh ... by, uh ... selling banners on the site. Yeah, that's it -- on this really cool site where your friends, colleagues and family log on to find you.
"Mommy, I just logged on to the site, and Daddy's still stuck on the turnpike."
• Your doctor scans your body with a Palm XVIII. Symptoms are read, stored and calibrated. She puts the Palm in its cradle, and it uploads your encrypted medical profile to an international database stored in Linus Torvalds' garage. Based on your symptoms, your HMO cancels your coverage.
In our business model, the HMOs return 10 percent of all its savings to our company, mediscrewed.com. The idea is spread from doctor to doctor through a viral marketing campaign.
• Here is a business model based on content. All the world's books, videos, newspapers, CDs, movies, radio broadcasts and government reports on cabbage production are stored in a new digital format called MP7.1.5.a. To be perceived as "with it," say "MP-sevs" for short.
All these MP-sevs are stored on a 16-terabyte supercomputer in Linus Torvalds' basement. Each user gets a set of virtual reality goggles co-branded by google.com, hence called google-goggles.
You plug the google-goggles into your Palm Pilot, which uses the wireless Internet to serve you content through the goggles as a 3-D, multimedia, total sensory experience. You can select Cindy Crawford, Martha Stewart or Torvalds to narrate all content. We make money through the tie-ins.
• AmIhungry.com is another killer app in the brave new interface between high-tech and bio-tech. A new cradle is developed for your Palm Pilot that straps to your arm. Periodically, you synchronize the device with your body so it can detect your blood pressure, pulse and metabolic rates, blood sugar and uric acid levels, and whether you are breathing.
When you next load your Palm into its regular, nonbiologic cradle, it automatically contacts Peapod or Streamline -- whichever is still in business at the time -- and orders takeout delivered directly to your home, workplace or car (for a nice co-marketing synergy with wheretheheckamI.com).
But here's the really cool part. It fulfills your order based entirely on what other people in your area are eating, now recorded and ranked at Amazon.com.
Torvalds will write the code for this in his spare time, posting it on the Net for free, of course, because he comes from some socialistic northern European country where they haven't a clue about capitalism, making a profit and stuff like that.
Once the amIhungry.com idea takes hold, there are unlimited opportunities for spinoffs. For example, we could launch amIthirsty.com or even doIneedtogotothebathroom.com.
• Your Palm e-mails your pager, which dials your cell phone, which sends a fax to your instant messenger, which in turn chats with your Palm. You and Linus stop into a Papa Gino's. We make money on the pizza. Hold the anchovies.
• Michael Paladini is a senior vice president at Arnold Integrated Services, Boston, an integrated advertising agency. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.