INSIDE WIRELESS: Major Themes at CTIA Wireless 2009

The CTIA Wireless 2009 conference was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Here, Knowledge Center mobile and wireless analyst J. Gerry Purdy shares eight major themes that emerged at CTIA Wireless this year, including how Windows Mobile, Apple iPhone, Google Android, RIM BlackBerry, Nokia's Symbian and the Palm WebOS are becoming the six major smartphone platforms in the wireless industry.


When I first arrived in Las Vegas for the annual CTIA Wireless show, I thought it might be just like the old days, with hundreds of people in line. I couldn't help but ask, "Why in the world did they spend tens of millions, if not more, on developing a nice monorail system to connect all the hotels with the convention center, but then didn't complete the system by connecting it to the airport?"

The taxi lobby likely made strong threats if one of their primary sources of revenue was to be cut off. It would have made more sense to extend the monorail to the airport than to have approved the $10 billion City Center project, which stands there almost completed and empty. As Anderson Cooper loves to say, "What were they thinking?"

The attendance for this year's CTIA Wireless conference was way down. It felt like attendance was around half of what it was last year. I've said it before: the most valuable space at the show is the hundreds of meeting rooms stuck off in Central Hall C5-at the far end of the show. Here, vendors rented rooms for meetings with press, analysts and customers.

I spent 80 percent or more of my time shuttling from one meeting room to another (often with a place to sit down and some refreshments while you talked). I never had a chance to "walk the floor." But I still must have walked over five miles during the conference. CTIA is becoming a fitness event!

Another sign of the down economy: Did anyone go, by mistake, and visit the North Hall? Oh dear, it was the Car Wash show going on at the same time. I mean, it appears they actually get together to talk about new technology for washing cars. Amazing.

Every time I attend a major show such as CTIA, I tell myself over and over that I'm never going to do this again. I had about 30 meetings during the two days I was there, was totally exhausted at the end of both days, and kept asking myself why I continue to put myself through this. The answer is that there are always a few meetings that really surprise me and get me to think, "Well, I guess this crazy scheduling made the trip worthwhile after all."