Editor's Corner

Live From CTIA IT: Day 1

It's day one here at CTIA IT in San Francisco and this show is in full-force. Before we turn to today's action, I'll give a re-cap of yesterday.

Our market segmentation panel at the Mobile Entertainment Summit went well. Three major points emerged during our discussion. The first is that carriers do not know very much about their subscribers beyond billing information. In fact, carriers really have only three segments: family plans, teens, and professional users. Beyond that, most carrier marketing is not segmented.

The second point is that segmentation can allow both carriers and content providers to develop new types of services they would not normally think of. For example, women are a large demographic for mobile content, yet most marketing campaigns target male users between the ages of 16 and 35.

The third take away from yesterday's panel is that behavioral segmentation (i.e., specific behavior patterns versus targeting by non-behavioral factors like age) is often more effective.

The real issue for segmentation, however, is consumer data, the lack of which remains the Achilles heel for most new wireless content strategies.

Now on to the parties. Last night I attended the CTIA Press Reception at the Argent Hotel. At the event, I got a sneak peal of the new ESPN Mobile handset. The ESPN Mobile phone has the best custom user interface I have seen to date. In addition to the ESPN phone, Qualcomm gave me a look at their prototype Media FLO mobile TV phone. The device I saw had a very good video reception and sported a swivel displace screen that can show video in both portrait and landscape modes. After the press reception, the hot ticket last night was the Disney party, which was packed.

This morning I participated in a breakfast panel sponsored by mobilitec. Our topic was "The Future of Mobile Applications." Not surprisingly, segmentation played a key role in this panel as well. The first hot topic was the family market. Several panelists cited instances of using mobile TV to entertain children, especially on long trips. One speaker noted that children, unlike wireless industry insiders, do not complain about the small screen size of handsets.

The next topic of discussion was content aggregators -- companies that work with carriers and content providers to bring new content to the wireless industry. Many panelists, including yours truly, argued that aggregators will eventually disappear from the content ecosystem. Aggregators that figure out how to provide original content have a chance, but those that do not will likely die off.

Product announcements at this year's CTIA IT are big. Yesterday, Bill Gates was on hand to help launch the new Windows Mobile version of the Palm Treo. Today Kyocera Wireless launched the Xcursion KX160, a clamshell cameraphone with Bluetooth.

For those of you at CTIA IT, I want to remind you about our party on Wednesday, Ole. We start at 7pm at the Thirsty Bear. Click here to RSVP. And don't worry, I'll give you the scoop on tonight's parties tomorrow. - Stephen