The best, and worst, of Demo Fall 2008

72 companies showed their stuff, with many intriguing options for businesses and consumers. But a few stood out far above the rest

Ah, but there is a catch. You can stream them off the Internet for free, but should you choose to save the file to a device, such as an iPod, you'll have to pay something to the composer, with MixMatch taking a small cut. Musicians who live far from each other could collaborate and jointly sell the song as well. The monetization/community aspect is a good idea; most musicians need every chance they can to earn a little money.

The worst of Demo

I don't like to pick on small companies, but sometimes you gotta say what's on your mind. And in this case, I'm here to tell you that HeyCosmo by Arsenal Interactive needs to die a quick death.

The premise is this: You want to hook up with a group of friends for a vacation or dinner or some such thing. You could call or e-mail or tweet them, but no, HeyCosmo wants you to set up a series of robo-calls -- you know, those infuriating messages you get around election time or from some bozo holding a sale on carpet cleaning.

The Web-based software lets the initiator spell out a number of questions you specify, and the recipients (if they haven't already hung up), must answer by pressing the appropriate number on their keypad. I suppose if they have questions or need clarifications, they can subject you to this same impersonal service.

But, wait, there's more! HeyCosmo's business is being a concierge, so its goal is to take these interactions and convert them into a business referral, such as finding a plumber or getting reservations at a restaurant. So, HeyCosmo will find all suppliers in range of your location or where you want to be, and robo-call all the providers it finds for you. Imagine 20 Las Vegas steakhouses getting robo-calls asking them to press 1 if they have a table for 4 at 7 p.m., 2 if they have a table at 8 p.m., etc. And then if they do enter an answer rather than just hang up, they're told you'll call back to confirm the reservation -- once you've seen all the responses and know who's got a table at your desired time. Yeah, I'm sure they'll welcome those calls.

Sorry, HeyCosmo. I'm hanging up now.

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Bill Snyder

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