A developing situation at CTIA Wireless 2008
The mobile developer community heads into Las Vegas for CTIA Wireless 2008 riding the kind of hot streak even the luckiest gambler would envy. Consider just how much has changed in the six months since CTIA Wireless I.T. and Entertainment 2007. First, Google introduced its Android OS and accompanying Open Handset Alliance industry coalition. Then Verizon Wireless embraced open access, promising to open its network to handsets, software and applications not otherwise offered by the operator. Numerous smaller players have opened their platforms as well, and AT&T even made publicly available its Universal Design methodology in an effort to galvanize the development of wireless applications and products geared to subscribers with physical disabilities. Most significant of all, Apple issued its iPhone software development kit, and despite restricting all application distribution to its new App Store and claiming 30 percent of all revenues off the top, the computing giant still trumpeted SDK downloads in excess of 100,000 within the first four days of release.
By most accounts, the iPhone SDK makes the application development remarkably simple and intuitive--given that the device now boasts a 28 percent smartphone market share, behind BlackBerry maker Research In Motion at 41 percent. It stands to reason that rival handset makers will now begin upgrading their SDKs and developer programs as well. While CTIA Wireless 2008 probably won't be the place those efforts begin in earnest, expect some big news nevertheless--after all, it isn't as if Microsoft, Nokia and RIM can't stand idly by much longer. (It's worth mentioning that Microsoft's entertainment and devices division president Robbie Bach is keynoting Day 1.) But even if CTIA doesn't yield any major announcements, the dominos are already toppling--the mobile industry is moving into an era of new openness and accessibility. Sooner rather than later, mobile applications will be limited more by developers' imaginations than anything else. -Jason