I attended the CTIA Wireless show a couple weeks ago. Our reason for attending was to get a sense of the state of the mobile/wireless industry and to see and hear what some of the trends are that we should be thinking about.
I hadn’t attended this show before so it was new ground for me and I guess I was a bit disappointed at how focused it was on hardware and much less on software and applications for the mobile/wireless space. I was also pretty surprised at the surprisingly low-tech approach to the conference - where were the live twitter feed displays, where were the SMS updates? Other than the low number of laptop users (see below), this could have been any conference from 5 - 10 years ago. I was also disappointed by the keynotes. I certainly understand that a platform that big is hard to give up from a marketing perspective, but I do expect senior executives from major corporations to be a little above a direct shill for their company. I expect them to speak intelligently about the state of the industry and market and how and what we can expect in the future. I suppose we got a bit of that, but it was delivered so couched in marketing babble about their company that it was really hard to hear it.
Some of the key themes: Bandwidth, bandwidth, bandwidth followed by video, video, video. In fact, if you believe a lot of what was being said, all we’re going to be doing is sitting around watching video on our mobile devices all day! Now I suppose there is some truth in that the use of video and the delivery of video over wireless delivery networks is clearly a big thing coming, but there must be other interesting things coming, right? If so, it was hard for them to articulate. Another part of the bandwidth story was 4G networks. Sprint announced the first 4G phone but that is dependent on access to their 4G WiMAX network. The other carriers will be getting there eventually via LTE technology, but that is still a couple years out. There was lots of conversation about how phones will be able to automatically detect the best network to use when a choice is available. One last theme I would mention is the growth in more machine-to-machine types of automated interactions. Associated with this will be more automatically personalized interactions with sophisticated devices.
Operating Systems & Phones
There wasn’t a lot of news on the OS side of things. It appears, at least in public, the current set of OSes will continue to persist for a while. That being said - the number of Android devices was very significant - so everyone is coming out with Android based devices. Microsoft managed to have a booth with no phones - really! They just had “emulators” of Windows 7 phones and in true Microsoft fashion those emulators managed to hang when used…
There were so few people using laptops (maybe 5% or 10%) - smartphones covered the needs for most people including myself. RANT ON: But where were the charging stations for batteries??? And, where was the discussion of improved battery life??? Nothing! RANT OFF.
Personally my favorite item at the show was a true wrist watch/cell phone from http://www.kemplerusa.com/ This is a true Dick Tracy (for those of you old enough to know who that is) device. Just insert your SIM card and go! Pretty cool!
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