INSIDE MOBILE: Fall CTIA: Motorola Back, Microsoft Treading Water

The CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment 2009 fall trade show was held at the San Diego Convention Center Oct. 7-9. Here, Knowledge Center mobile and wireless analyst J. Gerry Purdy shares his major insights from CTIA, including his reactions to Motorola's new CLIQ Android smartphone and Motorola's MOTOBLUR software, as well as Microsoft's Windows Mobile 6.5, MyPhone and Windows Mobile Marketplace announcements.


The CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment trade show was originally designed to focus on data, while the annual CTIA Wireless conference focused on voice. They have tried for many years to have the CTIA fall event cater to two groups at the same time-enterprise and consumers-since most wireless data vendors have products designed for either one or both of these markets. But the times have changed. Now, most people just think of CTIA as having two trade shows a year: spring in Las Vegas and fall, typically in San Francisco. They should just call them CTIA Spring and CTIA Fall, respectively.

It was clear last fall in San Francisco that the economy was hurting, with "down attendance" at the show. The decrease in attendees continued at this event a couple of weeks ago, with the conference taking up only one third of the convention center-and half of the space that was taken was set aside for the (more valuable) meeting rooms. You always think of a trade show as having lots of flashy booths. The meeting room areas were better for meetings: they were quiet and had a table and chairs.

The major things that impressed me at this CTIA event were:

1. Motorola is clearly back in the mobile game with the introduction of the CLIQ Android smartphone and their software called MOTOBLUR.

2. Microsoft is "treading water" with a Windows Mobile 6.5 that should satisfy the enterprise.

3. A number of speech-to-text companies are demonstrating that speech recognition for mobility is clearly now set to go mainstream.

As always, there were a few meetings that I found interesting as well. Here's the story:

Motorola: back in the game

It wasn't that long ago (2005 and 2006) that Motorola was the darling of the cellular industry. "Candybar" phones from Nokia were thick and heavy. Then, out of nowhere, Motorola developed the ultrathin RAZR feature phone and everyone just had to be seen using one. What a difference a few years makes. By mid-2007, the iPhone, plus a plethora of other popular smartphones, pushed the RAZR into oblivion. With no clear follow-on strategy (other than to introduce more variants of RAZR and a few Windows Mobile devices), Motorola looked like it was an "also ran."

There are some really good people who work at Motorola. They have as much experience developing phones as anyone, so you'd expect them to come back and offer something that would be on par-or perhaps better-than the iPhone and the rest of the smartphone manufacturers. Motorola recently announced the CLIQ, a smartphone based on the Google Android operating system. While the phone is nice, it's clearly the MOTOBLUR software that puts CLIQ back into the running for leadership in the phone market.