LAS VEGAS — Given that the rest of the Western world is wallowing in a lingering recession/depression, it’s nice to hunker down in Vegas at the CTIA where it’s sunny, people are still smiling, and the mobile world looks like it’s going strong.
I would describe the news flow as light, but there is plenty of excitement in the halls and aisles of the trade-show floor where serious innovation and is happening around the growth concept known as the mobile consumer: New location-based mobile apps, 4G, mobile commerce, unified communications, and even such staid telecom technologies such as fiber and mobile backhaul are all being lifted by the increasing mobile data traffic. People will chuck their cars and forfeit their homes before they’ll part with their smartphones, apparently. Well, if you don’t have a home, you may as well have a device so that you can still network and send Twitter messages.
Sprint and HTC were omnipresent with the biggest news of the day yesterday: The HTC EVO 4G smartphone, which has definitely raised the bar as the first mainstream broadband mobile device. The only disappointment there is that Sprint and HTC have hedged their bets on its release and the price: It will be available sometime “this summer,” while the price is still unknown.
Visual search. Don’t feel like typing? Search with your camera. I especially dig Goggles, released by Google last December. iPhone now has its own visual search app, too. Blend the ability to do visual search with location-based services, and the possibilities boggle the mind. The system will magically know when you’re in the neighborhood and you’re thirsty or hungry.
Mobile Backhaul: I’ll have a full report on this later, but the data deluge by new higher bandwidth mobile devices should boost equipment and service providers whoe can help backhaul data off of cell sites. Did you know, for example, the most of the mobile backhaul infrastructure is still trapped in the low-bandwidth copper wire world? That’s going to change quickly.
Mobile Advertising: The market is young, and service providers, retailers, and content companies are waking up to the revenue opportunity. Google’s acquisition-in-progress, AdMob, has some new SDKs for iPhone and Android.
Android Devices and Apps: They are gathering steam. Most people I talked to at CTIA said it was great to have an app platform other than iPhone to talk about. In addition to the HTC EVO discussed above, other manufacturers are rolling out new Android devices. Samsung announced a pretty cool little Android device.
Location-based Services: Scott McNealy famously said your privacy is gone. He’s right. Everybody’s tracking everybody on their device these days. Social-networking site FourSquare is taking advantage of that, but Twitter is now adding location services and Facebook can’t be far behind. Of course businesses are thinking about how to engage consumers with location services as Google says that one-third of all searches have a location-based element. Companies such as TCI are developing new ways to integrate location services into mobile systems.
That’s what I’ve seen so far. More later.