Nokia World 2008: EasyMeet tablet-friendly web conferencing

Nokia is working hard to merge mobile phones with mobile computing, making it easier to access and use of the full suite of Internet resources from a variety of devices. Annssi Vanjoki, Nokia Executive Vice President of Markets, said at the Nokia World 2008 keynote “I want to surf the entire Internet, not just some pieces of the Internet.” That’s a great idea, but the reality is that many parts of the Internet simply don’t work well on the small screens and limited input mechanisms prevalent on most mobile devices.

Nokia Research Center has been taking a look at ways to make mobile computing devices better integrated into some of the niche segments of the Internet. For example, EasyMeet provides an AJAX-powered web-based conferencing system that works great on tablets and other mobile devices. It doesn’t require the installation of plugins, ActiveX controls, or Java, so most modern Internet-connected devices can use it. It works on Symbian S60, Firefox, IE7, Opera, and Safari, so iPhone and desktop users can all join in a conference along with Nokia N800 and N810 users.

Currently EasyMeet supports the shared presentation of Microsoft PowerPoint files, but work is underway to support PDF and Apple iWork files. You can share files on the local device, but as explained in the video above it’s also possible to use Nokia’s Ovi service to access files from other locations.

When you sign up, you get an EasyMeet URL which you can use for all of your meetings. Attendees don’t need to remember complicated room and access codes. All the chat, meeting minutes, and whiteboard changes are stored (at Nokia) and are available for later search and retrieval.

EasyMeet is in beta, and will likely remain a Nokia hosted service, though there are nascent plans to support custom branding. No pricing is available, but it’s currently free to use. This obviously isn’t something most folks will have a need for every day, but it’s nice to see some innovation in the online conferencing space. It’s also nice to see a pure browser-based alternative to services like WebEx.