CTIA 2010 Redux: What Happened in Vegas Got Back on Nerd Bird to Silicon Valley
Wow, what a difference a year can make. Last year? Gloomy, funerial, dead. Empty hallways with dejected looking marketers nailed to their booths playing with trinkets and trash. This year? Buzz, energy, life. It is like the oxygen has been turned back on or the coming of spring to a Disney movie about the hibernation of bears. Cue stopmotion film of plants sprouting and flowers blooming. Somehow footage of lemmings cliff diving seems appropriate as well, but that might be too cynical.
One of the bigger surprises was not hearing much about the Verizon (News - Alert)Incredible, one of several new Nexus killers coming out. Perhaps Big Red was giving Sprint a much needed day in the Sun.
One of the bigger non-surprises was the launch of the HTC Evo, previously known as the Supersonic, on Sprint. As a former Midwesterner who more than once drag raced his daddy's Mustang GT on Metcalf Ave by Sprint HQ, I have a special place in my heart for Sprint (in spite of their customer support organization) and now have a place in my wallet for what will be the Apex Predator of the smartphone world. 4G connectivity, glorious 4.3 inch screen, 1 Gigahertz of Snapdragon muscle backed up by vintage 2.1 Android brains and you have one hell of a beastly phone, particularly when WiMAX comes to Silicon Valley.
Remember when the HD2 came out and everyone said "Wow, what a cool phone. Just imagine if it ran Android…". Well, here it is. But it gets even better, add in the ability to do WiFi tethering - the phone can act like a portable WiFi hotspot like the MiFi (we have a couple of those here in the office and we love them) except that while the MiFi does 5 simultaneous nodes the Evo will do 8. Juicy muscle comes to Overland Park, complete with HDMI out. Nice. Pity about losing the physical buttons on the bottom though.
Another surprise was the Samsung (News - Alert)Galaxy S, a similarly muscular Android 2.1 beast with a 1GHz ARM Cortex 8 backed up by a PowerVR GSX540 GPU shining through a 4 inch Super AMOLED screen. This phone specs well and should in theory be a good deal faster than the Nexus, which is my current benchmark. Samsung has done well at the bottom and middle of the market in the past and is now targeting the high ground. It will be interesting to do a side by side with the Nexus and Evo.
Accessories are always nice. Many manufacturers have seen that different device colors and skins can be a huge competitive advantage and many of the small fish in the ecosystem have found profitable niches making screen protectors, sheaths, cases, bling and such. One of the trendier companies, Ed Hardy, is riding the Deathmetal/Goth wave that I suspect is close to jumping the shark. Regardless, their booth was well attended, with a DJ and staff giving out Ed Hardy goods to a pumping, thumping soundtrack:
It was funny to get home and show vids and pics to the Japanese wife who thought the presentation with a DJ and dancing girls was good but that the product was hopelessly quaint, as "decoden" or decorated phones, have been around for years in Japan.
Those hoping for big news from Microsoft (News - Alert)(remember the Amber Lamps?) went home disappointed. Nokia had a large presence and a helpful staff (thanks for helping us try to unlock the E71 that we locked and forgot the PIN to) but no real earth shattering news. The Symbian (News - Alert)folks dropped off some of the Symbian ducks, which were hugely popular and which had visitors fiending and scheming over them from day one, but no real shockers.
Las Vegas is an interesting place to visit, but it has changed over the years. No longer the supercheap wonderland that it once was, it is still decadent but no longer inexpensive. Progress they say is a good thing, but sometimes I wonder if some of the new megaresorts aren't taking things a step too far.
That said, CTIA (News - Alert)this year was an interesting, upbeat show. My company, InnoPath, even had some fun with it, announcing Lock and Wipe for RIM's Blackberry platform using the line "InnoPath's ActiveCare Protects Blackberry Users with Remote Lock and Wipe, Ensuring that What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas.' I guess that was some good marketing, because the show had not even opened yet before some of the RIM people started to hit our booth.
Hope CTIA was good for you, either in person at the show, at your booth or vicariously over the Web.
Jason Lackey is marketing manager at Innopath Software.
Edited by Michael Dinan