By BENNETT HALL
Gazette-Times reporter, 10/22/01
Jerry Saveriano has seen the future in
a PDA - and he wants to grab a big slice of it for Oregon.
With Palm-type personal digital assistants
rapidly eclipsing day planners and Internet-enabled
cell phones flooding onto the market, Saveriano believes
America is poised on the brink of the biggest technological
revolution since the World Wide Web. But even though
millions of us can already access the Internet with
these handheld wireless devices, there's a serious bottleneck
holding that revolution back.
"The technology's not the problemit's
the lack of good, compelling content," said Saveriano,
CEO of Sanda Communications, a Corvallis advertising,
marketing and public relations firm that opened an office
in Portland's Creative Services District last year.
So far, no one's figured out how to deliver
high-quality online video, animation, games, maps and
so forth on a 4-inch PDA screen, much less a 1-inch
cell phone screen. When they do, the revolution will
beginand Saveriano wants it to begin in Portland.
To that end, Sanda Communications is pitching
the idea of the world's first Small Screen Media Festival,
to be held in Portland in March.
"The idea of the conference is to
bring the best creative people from around the world
together with the best technical people and let them
mix it up," Saveriano said.
The festival would feature a technology
expo, but the focal point would be a contest to call
attention to the best new content and emerging technologies
for small screen applications - the Smallee Awards.
The awards would embrace entertainment,
advertising, user interface, mapping, games, manuals
and other products for mobile devices such as cell phones,
PDAs, MP3 players, Global Positioning System units,
in-car computers, personal game players and handheld
The Software Association of Oregon and
the Oregon Creative Services Alliance have already signed
on as sponsors, and Sanda has built and launched a Web
site to promote the idea. Jim Johnson, an art director
for the company, has designed a statuette that features
a hand holding a crystal ball"to symbolize
the future," Saveriano said - and a battery-powered
mini-screen to display the winning entry.
The next step is to line up some big money
corporate sponsors that would have an interest in the
products and technologies the festival is designed to
foster. Saveriano said he plans to approach Intel, Hewlett-Packard,
Qualcomm, Verizon and Microsoft (which recently became
a Sanda client), among others.
"There's going to be a whole new
thing, and I'd like it to be born in Portland,"
He thinks the conference could secure
a place for Portland as a hub of the nascent small screen
content industry - an industry that seems poised for
explosive growth. Research firm IDC is predicting that
the number of U.S. wireless subscribers will rocket
from last year's total of 5 million to more than 84
million in 2005. In addition, IDC is forecasting a dramatic
upsurge in wireless Internet use beginning in 2003 as
networks get faster, applications get better and new
devices hit the consumer market.
"There'll be a PDA in every hand,"
Sanda said, "but what are you going to play on
it? That's what the Smallees answers."
Although Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco or even
Seattle might seem a likelier locale for such an event,
Saveriano believes Portland and its burgeoning Creative
Services District have the brainpower to make the Small
Screen Media Festival happen.
"There's plenty of technical talent,
and there's plenty of creative talent," he said.
"What we've got to do is get them together to exploit
this new medium."
Jeanette Pilak, executive director of
the Oregon Creative Services Alliance, agreed with that
assessment. The Portland area, she said, is home to
numerous spinoffs of such heavy hitters as Nike, Intel,
Mentor Graphics and Hewlett-Packard. These companies
employ an army of free-lancers and small shops for both
technical and creative work, so the area has a high-quality
work force in place.
"We like to be first here in Oregon.
We think we have some firms doing nationally and internationally
recognized work, but nobody knows who they are here
at home," she said. "We're doing the work,
we just want to get recognition for it."
Pilak also pointed out that Portland has
already hosted some significant world festivals this
year, including the International Electronic Cinema
Festival and last week's world premiere of the Philip
Glass Film Festival.
She thinks Sanda is well qualified to
lead the coalition backing the plan, and she's hoping
the economic benefits of hosting the Small Screen Media
Festival will persuade city, regional and state agencies
to help out with funding.
"They definitely have the experience
and the resources to put it together, and I think they
definitely have the relationships to say, `This is how
we get this done,'" she said.
"It's just a win-win for the city,
the region, the state and for business, and it's something
that everybody wants to make happen."
Naturally, Sanda's interest in creating
the event is not entirely selfless. The company specializes
in high-tech clients, and Saveriano hopes to land some
new accounts among the firms competing for a Smallee
"With all these things, we know they're
going to happen. There's two things we don't know: When's
it going to hit, and who's going to make money doing
it?" Saveriano said. "Sanda has created the
Small Screen Media Festival so we can get a look at
all the players."