There's no doubt that AT&T's (NYSE:T) announcement of its $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA on March 20--just two days before the beginning of the CTIA Wireless 2011 conference Orlando, Fla.--put a big damper on any news that other companies were planning to announce at the annual confab.
Every meeting, panel discussion and cocktail party conversation was dominated by talk about this impending acquisition and what it will mean to the industry. Although new products were launched at CTIA, including the LG Thrill 4G, the Nokia (NYSE:NOK) Astound smartphone and Sprint's (NYSE:S) EVO 3D, those announcements were dwarfed by the implications of AT&T's deal.
Understandably, T-Mobile USA was largely absent from the show. After AT&T's announcement Sunday, the company dramatically reduced the number of executives attending the event and cancelled nearly all of the company's appearances on panels. (The only exception, I believe, was John Horn, national director of M2M at T-Mobile USA, who appeared at the FierceWireless executive breakfast panel March 23 to discuss "Making Money from M2M & Embedded Devices.") T-Mobile did make some handset and network coverage announcements, but they generated little attention.
The show itself appeared to attract lots of attendees. CTIA is reporting that more than 40,000 people attended the show last week, which featured products and services from more than 1,000 exhibitors. I believe that many of those attendees made their appearance on Tuesday. By Wednesday evening, it seemed as if many of the higher-level executives at companies had left town.
But companies exhibiting at CTIA clearly have changed from year's past. Gone are the booths touting mobile entertainment services. Also absent were some big name infrastructure vendors such as Alcatel Lucent (NYSE:ALU). Instead, I saw rows and rows of tablet and smartphone accessory makers touting the latest in iPad covers and more.
Panel sessions included the usual debates on the promise of mobile payments and mHealth--but there was also a lot of discussion about increasing the depth and breadth of network coverage, whether that's through femtocells, picocells or other options. To check out our complete coverage of the show, visit our CTIALive minisite.
The Fierce editorial team has had a few days to reflect on CTIA, and we have compiled our observations into a scorecard. We've highlighted the companies and technologies we think emerged as winners and losers at last week's gathering in Orlando. Clearly, some companies emerged stronger than ever, while others seemed to lack momentum. Check out our scorecard here:
As always, your comments are appreciated. --Sue