LAS VEGAS -- The Station took a little detour in his regular data center/storage/virtualization/cloud computing/green IT beats and went to the Nevada desert to catch the opening day of CTIA Wireless 2009 at the Convention Center. I filed a couple of stories -- one on Verizon's LTE plans and one on netbooks.
Normally, this show packs in from 35,000 to 45,000 people from all over the world. It didn't look like nearly that many today (April 1). Two factors may have affected this year's turnout, which is down noticeably: the overall recession, which has trimmed show and travel budgets big time (see my story on netbooks from earlier today) and the Mobile World Congress, held in Barcelona Feb. 16-19. That's apparently where most of the current industry new-product news was announced, so there wasn't much left over for CTIA.
In fact, with Dell, HP, Lenovo, Asus, Acer and others choosing not to show their wares here, another factor showed: It is often a better strategy to have smaller, more targeted media/analyst/potential customer events than to spend big bucks on a booth that may get a lot of looks but not a lot of quality attention.
Enter the annual Pepcom Mobile Focus event, put on by the inimitable John (Sergeant) Pepper, who is legendary for his media/vendor PR events. About 40 wireless-affiliated companies set up small booths in a medium-size ballroom over at Caesar's Palace, about a mile and a half from the main event at the Convention Center.
In a relatively calm environment, accredited media and analysts can come have a bite to eat or a drink, spend a few minutes with vendors with whom they really want to talk, and get some business done in informal fashion. No rush, no fuss.
ShowStoppers is another well-known event in this genre. This might be the way to do conferences in the future: Break 'em up into smaller pieces, so the event itself isn't so overwhelming.
Anyway, netbook maker MSI chose to attend only the Pepcom event, eschewing a three-day booth on the main floor, and it got plenty of attention for its new Wind U123 netbook. Very cool equipment for about $350. Check it out.