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CTIA 2013 Scorecard: A last gasp before 2014's big changes

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Mike Dano

CTIA Wireless 2013 this year was, by virtually all accounts, a relatively quiet show. Big headlines were few and far between, and even the appearance of celebrities like Jennifer Lopez and Ashton Kutcher did little to raise the overall outline of the event.

CTIA said this year's show had about 35,000 attendees, which the group said was similar to last year's turnout. As far as exhibitors, CTIA said it drew in about 1,000, again similar to last year. But this year's show did feel smaller. Further, several big names--like Samsung--had a much smaller presence this year than in years past.

Of course, that doesn't mean CTIA Wireless 2013 wasn't worthwhile. Most of the attendees I spoke with said they had productive meetings and were in general pleased with the show's content and location. Hot topics this year included small cells, MVNOs and other new wireless service brands (like J.Lo's Viva Móvil) and the rise of Tier 2 handset makers.

And overshadowing the proceedings was the continued uncertainty around Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH), SoftBank, Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR) and Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S).

But I think the decisive headline from this year's CTIA show is that it's the last one we'll see, at least in the spring. CTIA earlier this year announced a "Super Mobility Week" in September 2014 in Las Vegas that will allow attendees to move among collocated shows from CTIA, the Competitive Carriers Association, 4G World and IFA.

The combination of these shows--each one once a major event in its own right--reflects the massive consolidation that continues in the wider wireless world. Nortel Networks, Texas Instruments and MetroPCS are among the latest examples of a maturing industry. The shuttering of CTIA's spring show is another signal of the slowing of the carrier-driven wireless industry, one that now relies to a significant extent on the likes of Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) to drive growth. And none of these companies ever had much of a presence at CTIA. --Mike | +Mike Dano | @mikeddano

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