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No-shows are talk of CTIA Wireless show

07 апреля 2009

This year's CTIA Wireless industry trade show in Las Vegas was notable more for the lack of foot traffic and exhibitors than for any major announcements.

Much of the big news had been spoiled ahead of time, and while several trends emerged - including the rise of application stores, the opportunities from embedded devices and concerns over capacity - no one theme dominated.

Here are the highlights and lowlights from the conference this week.


Hey, where did everybody go?

Terms such as "slow" and "dead" were bandied about by analysts and industry observers to describee the show.

CTIA said attendance was down 15%, a reflection of the poor economy. Many called that figure optimistic as the slower foot traffic - and not any wireless technology or handsets - was among the most talked about themes at the show.

The economic downturn also resulted in fewer glitzy parties at the conference."We really felt as we analyzed CTIA this year, with the economy where it is, it's not about parties," said Ryan Wuerch, chief executive of privately held Motricity Inc., a company known for throwing lavish events in the past.

One benefit from the decreased attendance - shorter taxi lines.

Bells, whistles and mute
Shrugging off any signs of a recession, LG Electronics Inc.'s booth was larger than previous years. It even brought in director Michael Bay, who was touting the next "Transformers" movie, to make a brief appearance.

The company has reason to be excited. It was among the largest market share gainers in the U.S. last year and figure to emulate that success this year with the introduction of higher end smartphones.

LG executive Ehtisham Rabbani said its slick Arena smart phone had a wait list of 1 million people in Europe.

Separately, Alcatel-Lucent is becoming relevant again. It's amazing how one major contract win - Verizon Communications Inc. tapping the infrastructure company to provide LTE gear - can change things.

While other booths were empty, Alcatel's remained lively. The company is riding the wave of popularity over the next generation network.

Of course, as was documented, Research in Motion Ltd. made a loud appearance. RIM's Co-Chief Executive Mike Lazaridis was a keynote speaker, and RIM's booth was packed as people crammed in to get a glimpse of some of the programs available on its App World application storefront.

Disappointingly, RIM wouldn't show any new devices and even denied the existence of well-known products in the pipeline. It didn't hurt RIM's popularity that it also posted strong fiscal fourth-quarter results and first-quarter estimates.

At the other end, Motorola Inc. was quiet. A "last-minute" change in scheduling prevented mobile device executives from talking to the media, and Chief Executive Sanjay Jha refused to talk to the press.

The company also was relatively quiet except for its new phone, the Evoke QA4. It's a high-end feature phone that looks like the love child of the Apple Inc. iPhone and the Palm Inc. Pre. At least it's not another RAZR.

And, as has been its practice, Apple was a no-show at the event.

Capacity concerns
Capacity remains a concern. Clearwire Corp. Co-Chairman Ben Wolff talked about it in a keynote, and a panel discussion was devoted to the issue. As consumers use more data, tapping the networks with their smartphones and bandwidth-hungry netbooks, there will be more load on the network.

Verizon, for one, thinks that its investment in LTE and fiber-optic lines will allow it to handle the growing traffic, according to Roger Gurnani, head of product development for the telco.

The capacity constraint is only going to fuel the need for cellsites and antennas, which benefit the tower companies. Indeed, the usually sedated tower section of the show was livelier this year.

"Carrier data points support a bullish view on towers," Goldman Sachs analyst Jason Armstrong said. His top pick remains American Tower Corp., which he believes has the most exposure to the growing demand and the financial flexibility to buy tower assets in the downturn.

Connecting with more things
Carriers touted their strategies to embed wireless abilities into more products.

Verizon Chief Executive Ivan Seidenberg talked about the prospects of the wireless industry getting to 500% penetration, while AT&T Inc. hammered the point that it is working with device makers to get its connection in their products.

Despite the talk, there's little to highlight. Sprint Nextel Corp.'s relationship with the Amazon Kindle remains the most visible embedded device partnership.


Источник: Total Telecom

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