ORLANDO, Fla.—If there was an overriding theme to the Spring edition of the 2007 CTIA trade show, it was entertainment. What buzz existed was all about phones that show movies, television shows, or play music in one or another format or means of delivery.
The Apple iPhone, despite its near total absence from the show, was a primary focus, not because of the phone itself, but because of how other phone makers were positioning themselves in response to its non-presence.
But it wasnt all about the iPhone. There were plenty of makers of devices that would enable the bandwidth for music or videos; there were new designs that appeared to be created solely on the basis of looks; and there were products that enabled the delivery or storage of music, videos or photos.
Of course, there were products aimed at the enterprise, such as Motorolas MC35 and the Palm Treo 700P. There were also wireless VOIP (voice over IP) phones, multi-mode phones, and some early examples of WiMax devices. But the biggest deal by far was entertainment.
Samsungs Upstage, which will be sold in the United States by Sprint, is the clearest effort at a shot across Apples bow. Its not a pure touch-screen device, but it costs a third as much as the iPhone, and it purports to do the same things.
What makes this phone unique is that it has two faces. On one side is a large screen thats designed to show photos, music information, video and images such as album covers and data. On the other side is the phone keypad and a small screen similar to yesterdays cell phones. If you need to enter information for the large screen, you need to keep flipping the phone over. Apparently this is a new take on the idea of a flip phone.
Motorola is also doing all it can to come up with cool competitors to the iPhone, although one way or the other its new devices will remind you or the ubiquitous RAZR. In fact, one of the new devices is an upgraded RAZR that will be offered by Verizon and offers a music player, Micro SD slot, high-resolution (for a phone) camera and the ability to shoot video clips and display video from Verizon.
Motorola was also showing its new MOTORIZR in several iterations. Theres one that runs Linux, one that has advanced music capabilities, and one thats got a soft covering.
I looked at the T-Mobile version, and its blue, with that rubberized covering that I think feels creepy. Its about the size of the MOTOKRZR (meaning smaller than the RAZR), but when open the looks are very similar. Motorola was also showing an engineering prototype of a phone with a curved sliding track, which looks cool, but may or may not actually see the light of day.
Motorola was busy on the enterprise front, first with the announcement of its MC35 device thats designed for field use and with its Q2. The Q2, which will be sold by Cingular/AT&T was notable if only because the various companies involved either denied or agreed (sometimes simultaneously) that the product existed.
Cingular/AT&T, however, did say that the Q2 (which of course might not exist) was aimed at the executive market, but would run the same software as the MC35. Motorola, meanwhile, was busy denying that the MC35 would be delivered with Good Technologys mobile office software while Cingular/AT&T, which will actually be selling it, said it would.
Motorola spent a lot of time in spin control on this one, but since Cingular/AT&T was the company doing the selling, and since at least one person present had a Q2 on hand, the spin wasnt very effective.