Should CTIA consider rescheduling its show?

Last week I had the opportunity to host a webinar titled, "CTIA 2009: What was Hot and What was Not." The webinar--featuring some lively points from analysts Peter Jarich, research director with Current Analysis, and John Jackson, vice president of research with CCS Insight--honed in on the fact that the economy and the show's timing created a somewhat lackluster event when it came to new announcements.

With an economic recession looming, attendance and foot traffic were noticeably down. CTIA said attendance fell 15 percent from the previous year to 34,000 attendees. It's unclear if that number is based on registered attendees or those who actually set foot on the show floor.

It was noted that perhaps CTIA should consider moving the show from the spring to the back half of the year. CTIA for the past few years now has fallen after major shows such as CES and the Mobile World Congress. As such, much of the news and topics at CTIA were re-hashed from previous events. And some of the big news coming out during the show did not come from the show at all, noted Jackson. Namely, Palm announced it was ready to release its webOS software development kit to the developer community at large from the Web 2.0 expo that same week.

Nevertheless, the show was valuable from the standpoint of measuring the trends occurring in the wireless industry. Here were some interesting take-aways from last week's webinar:

  • Jarich said that vendor financing may once again be a part of the vendor community vernacular. Using government loans, vendors may be in a position to help push infrastructure deployments along. "I don't know if it's a good thing for the market," Jarich said. "But it's a topic I don't see going away anytime soon."
  • Jackson talked about AT&T's market experiment in Philadelphia and Atlanta to subsidize netbooks in the $50 to $100 range. He believes, however, the carrier's 5GB data cap on the devices' data pricing plans "are not an appropriate recipe for transparency that will trigger the inflection point for this market." He noted that operators like AT&T will be experimenting with these offerings to find what is palatable for data pricing and capping.
  • Tom Gruba, senior director of marketing with Motorola and another webinar speaker, said operators are looking at LTE for a number of reasons, including easing 3G capacity, offering rural broadband and introducing advanced features. Interestingly, he said that many CDMA operators are looking at LTE as an alternative to EV-DO Rev. B.
  • And Jessica Schieve, director of networking solutions marketing with Wind River and webinar participant, concluded that mobile Internet traffic is beginning to mirror fixed Internet traffic, an evolution that is happening faster than industry watchers expected.

The speakers and I focused on many more topics, including the fragmented OS environment and Skype's new iPhone app. You can hear more here.--Lynnette