Device news at the CTIA Wireless 2011 trade show--in terms of smartphones, tablets and non-traditional devices--likely won't be all that interesting, according to analysts. However, after a lackluster showing at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) appears poised to steal the show when CTIA kicks off March 22.
Sprint is hosting a press conference March 22 from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., and the blog Engadget reported the carrier will announce a new version of the Nexus S, called the Nexus S 4G, which will run on Clearwire's (NASDAQ:CLWR) mobile WiMAX network. The initial Nexus S, announced last year by Samsung, was the first smartphone to run version 2.3, or Gingerbread, of Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform. In addition, the blog reported Sprint will launch two new products under its Evo brand, the Evo 3D, a 3D smartphone, and the Evo View, which may be a CDMA version of HTC's Flyer tablet, announced at Mobile World Congress.
Sprint CEO Dan Hesse all but guaranteed fireworks. "You can expect us to be launching more dual-mode devices at CTIA," Hesse said recently at the Deutsche Bank Media and Telecom Conference.
Aside from that, however, analysts expect handset news at the CTIA show largely to be confined to carrier partnership announcements rather than brand new gadget rollouts.
"I don't think there's going to be whole lot of surprises, considering what we saw at both CES as well as Mobile World Congress," Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg said. "I think most of the devices have been outed."
So what is going to generate buzz beyond Sprint's expected announcements? It could be greater detail on machine-to-machine device and data plan strategies, especially from carriers such as Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) and T-Mobile USA, said ABI Research analyst Kevin Burden.
"It is critical," he said. "It is an area of huge potential growth."
NDP Group analyst Ross Rubin said he is looking forward to seeing more information about tablet-specific applications, including applications for Google's Honeycomb tablets as well as for Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) PlayBook.