CTIA IT 2009 Scorecard: Emerging trends

Whose profile is rising? Mobile healthcare. Reminiscent of the early days of mobile entertainment, mobile healthcare is generating a tremendous amount of buzz. CTIA helped foster that excitement during the keynote on the second day of the show when CEO Steve Largent announced the results of a study the association conducted with Harris Interactive.

The research found that among 3,000 U.S. consumers surveyed, 40 percent said they would embrace mobile healthcare products and services to complement their visits to health providers, and 23 percent said they would turn to mobile if the platform reduced or eliminated visits with their doctors.

In addition, 19 percent of consumers told CTIA and Harris that they would upgrade their current mobile data plan in order to seize on mobile health innovations. Fourteen percent said they would upgrade their device for mobile healthcare access.

But those stats weren't the only example of mobile healthcare's growing presence at the show. The conference had a dedicated track devoted to mobile health topics and a pavilion on the show floor with 25 mobile health companies. Of course, San Diego stalwart Qualcomm played a big role in the mobile health industry's presence at the show. Don Jones, vice president of business development at Qualcomm's Health and Life Sciences division, said that Qualcomm helped place 21 of those 25 companies in the pavilion and helped bring the costs down so more companies could participate.

Jones also said that he expects wireless carriers to decide on a case-by-case basis how involved they will be in the mobile health ecosystem. Interestingly, he sees the most innovation from small regional carriers that want to have a leadership in this space.

Whose profile is falling? Mobile TV. Once the belle of the CTIA ball, the mobile TV industry has fallen far from the days when panels on the topic would be dominate the show and attendees would engage in lively debates about which technology (DVB-H or MediaFLO) is best. Although there are still a handful of companies talking about mobile TV, panel sessions are sparse and new developments are rare.

flot tv personal tv device ctiaThere were a few mobile TV announcements at the show--long-time mobile TV champion MobiTV announced the launch of NBC Sports' new Notre Dame Central App. And Qualcomm's mobile TV division debuted a stand-alone device, the FLO TV Personal Television. The device will cost $249.99 and will require a monthly subscription fee of about $8.99 per month. Subscribers can sign up via the company's website.

But response to the stand-alone device debut was not positive (one blogger said the device was only for the stupid or the rich). Although the $8.99 per month fee is significantly lower than Verizon Wireless' and AT&T's TV offerings that run about $15 per month, FloTV requires users to sign a three-year contract for the service. And according to PC Magazine, those subscribers must prepay the entire three-year commitment.

Mobile TV seems plagued by pricing missteps and overly optimistic subscriber projections. Without more inventive pricing scenarios, it's unlikely the mobile TV segment will return to its high-profile place at the CTIA IT show.

CTIA IT 2009 Scorecard: Emerging trends