Cellular, Telecomm, Cable Providers Step Up at CTIA

Da Brick by Motorola: the 80s were good to us!

At last week’s CTIA trade show, a 25th anniversary display included a glam shot of Motorola’s iconic cellular phone, Da Brick, adopted early on by Magnum, P.I. and my realtor sister. That $4,000, one-hour-talk-time wonderment looked like it had been plucked right off the front lines in ‘Nam and spray-painted beige.

Today, a planet of applications developers and systems engineers scramble to fill our insatiable demand for 4G-worthy data flow between machines and each other, via ever-shrinking, mobile devices.

Cisco’s CTO said in her keynote that their challenge is to ensure machines do more of the work, via machine-to-machine protocols; and to figure out how to keep all of us in video-centric, always-on, location-based user mode. As a consumer, my challenge is the continual evaluation of how I retrieve and share data on the job and at play, and from which combo of service providers. Thus, CTIA is a great testing ground for me.

It was remarkable to see cable companies and their ecosystem of suppliers gain such high visibility at CTIA. Indeed, the supply lines are blurring. Races will be won by those who can merge real-life and work-world needs, i.e. health care monitoring in the home, and robust inventory control at work. Cable? Telco? Cellular? Or all three, with “an app for that” thrown in?

A recurring Elephant in the Room theme for me is power consumption. How will battery life hold up with 4G-paced data transfer and jumbo-esque screens on pocket-sized devices? I continue to watch solutions providers for un-corded powering and re-charging solutions, and technologies used by service providers that improve battery life by managing signal transport.

Favorite visual images from my CTIA Experience:

– a lo-o-o-ong line of folks waiting to meet Shaun White (what a brand for the ages that guy is!). Shaun stopped traffic with his big ginger ‘do and top-of-the-world smile.
– event after-parties at tragically hip nightclubs, which open early for private parties, then boot everyone out by 11 to get ready for their 1am opening. Most of the “great-unhip” wouldn’t get past the bouncers during regular club hours!

Part two of my coverage of CTIA will be an in-depth look at an industry sector in transition: mobile money. Look out, Western Union… international smart pre-paid services are here!

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