CTIA, Vegas, glitz, tech and flaps
CTIA Wireless 2009 (1-3 April, at the Las Vegas Convention Center) is arguably the most significant wireless event in the Western hemisphere. The show attracted more than 1,000 exhibiting companies representing the full spectrum of wireless related hardware, software and service providers.
The event is organised by the CTIA-The Wireless Association, an international non-profit membership organization. The CTIA, founded in 1984, represents the full range of participants in the wireless communications sector – cellular, personal communication services and enhanced specialized mobile radio.
The CTIA show is considered a regional event, but given the globalisation of information and communication technologies, professionals from more than 100 countries attended the four days of conferences and exhibitions. I have not yet been able to get the official attendance statistics, but I have seen estimates ranging from 34 to 40 thousand attendees from 125 to 169 countries. Although most agree that attendance is down this year, the overall level of the attendees seems to have improved. According to some exhibitors, fewer technicians and more decision makers visited their stands. The competition in wireless, especially mobile wireless is so intense, that no one in a critical position in the sector – from anywhere in the world – can afford to miss the latest announcements or the latest trick the competition has devised.
The show’s venue, Las Vegas, is perfect for the hype and glitz that surrounds it. If you like gadgets, if you buy the latest and greatest handset the moment it hits the market, you might want to take it easy at this show to avoid overloading your circuits, blowing your fuse or tripping your circuit breaker.
Despite the economic meltdown, the possibility of doing business, finding a job, or finding the next market sensation still continues to attract hoards of companies and individuals to the CTIA Wireless event. Although the attendance was, for some at least, a cost be damned situation – okay, so you take a red-eye flight and go to a cheaper hotel ‘off the strip’ – the CTIA is an essential resource for building relationships and driving business in the wireless industry.
The CTIA 2009 show was pretty much what one would expect – the latest and greatest in flashy handsets of all sorts, still not much of earthshaking import on the Google Phone front and a big flap about Skype.
Skype’s announcement of its Skype for iPhone software signalled the start of a new era. Skype’s move has long been anticipated, and in truth, many people have been using third party software and services for some time to hook into Skype using a variety of WiFi-enabled phones. The announcement that Skype, itself, was supporting this sort of mobile usage had carriers around the world considering the regulatory implications.
Deutsch Telekom didn’t wait long, it prohibited its customers from using Skype – or any other VoIP software on its phones. DT’s customers will not be allowed to use their 3G data network or its network of hotspots – those that do might have their contracts cancelled.
Skype is not taking this quietly. It is said to be organising a heavy-duty lobbying effort and calling on bloggers to turn up the heat on politicians. The fight has just begun and the troops are moving into the trenches – this is going to be one hell of a war.
The show closed on Friday, 3rd April, after a high-profile keynote address by former Vice President Al Gore, who stressed that the wireless industry is “one of the great success stories in the American economy”. The continued development of wireless infrastructure is a key indicator fuelling the communications revolution.
Addressing environmental concerns, Al Gore noted that wireless technology will be one of the key tools used to solve the climate crisis. “This is one of those rare times we all agree that the government needs to build out a green infrastructure that will free us from foreign oil and draw on clean energy.”
“Wireless is the solution to so many of the important issues we are facing today,” said Robert Mesirow, Vice President and show director for CTIA. “This show made it extremely clear that innovation in sectors such as energy and healthcare is happening now – its real, and its transforming business and lifestyles.”
Throughout the show, companies showcased the latest high-end devices and netbooks while developers shined with new applications touted for new and existing storefronts, including the BlackBerry App World, launched during RIM’s keynote on Wednesday.
Top Global took this year’s ‘Best in Show’ award for its 3G UFO Personal Hotspot, which provides instant mobile access to the Internet. The winners were determined by the more than 40,000 online and text votes sent by CTIA show attendees and wireless industry professionals. iLoopMobile and OpenMarket provided text-voting capabilities for this year’s programme.
“It’s a privilege to win this award and we appreciate the support of the people who voted for us,” said Alan Zhen Zhou, President and CTO of Top Global. “We spent a lot of effort developing this cutting edge product using Gobi technology from Qualcomm, which allowed us to design one product for the global marketplace.”
The CTIA Emerging Technology Awards programme gives industry recognition and exposure to the best wireless products and services in the areas of mobile consumer electronics and applications; enterprise and vertical market technology; 4G and network infrastructure; and environmentally friendly hardware and services. Nearly 300 applications were submitted in 18 categories and reviewed by a panel of 30 recognized members of the media, industry analysts and executives. Products were judged in terms of innovation, functionality, technological importance, implementation and the overall impact upon the consumer.
“With a broad spectrum of categories, ranging from consumer to enterprise to wireless health and energy applications, the E-Tech awards are an indicator of the phenomenal innovation taking place in the wireless industry,” said Robert Mesirow, Vice President and Show Director for CTIA. “We received a great response to the online and text voting campaigns for Best in Show and extend our congratulations to all of today’s winners.”
The next issue of Connect-World Europe will be published later this month. This edition of Connect-World will be widely distributed to our reader base and, as well, at shows such as: Sviaz/Expo Comm, Moscow (May 12-15, 2009)
The theme of this issue of Connect-World Europe will be – ICT and the EU Innovation Agenda.
The EU has actively promoted innovation of all types through a series of programmes and conferences. The EU has committed over €2 billion to its plans for “Inventing the Future” by promoting research and development in ICT, including its use in such leading edge fields as ICT-bio, photonics, robotics and cognition. The far-reaching EU development programmes promise to open new markets, new sectors, and bring new players. This issue of Connect-World Europe will track the progress and the promise of these important EU initiatives.
Europe II 2009 Media Pack; Click here