Last week’s CTIA International Wireless event wrapped up in Las Vegas, bringing no doubt that the age of the “super phone” is upon us. Sure, you’ve heard that Sprint will be rocking the HTC EVO with full 4G WiMax goodness. Samsung will be bringing out their Galaxy S phone that doesn’t just have a vivid AMOLED screen, but a Suuuuuuuuuuuper AMOLED screen (gotta love the marketing!). In all of the flash and excitement of CTIA, what do all of these things really mean? What trends should you expect to see as a result of a flurry of product and service announcements? More importantly, how does it impact you as a consumer?
Gear Diary dove head first into CTIA, and lived to come out of the event with more than just a few finds. Let’s see what the rest of 2010 — and beyond — promises to fulfill our wireless needs.
[image courtesy of CTIA Wireless]
1 GHz processors, (Super) AMOLED screens, minimum 5 Megapixel cameras with flash, turbocharged webkit browsers, and all the apps you can shake a stick at. These are no longer “high end” specs, but the norm going forward. If you are riding the “unlimited” data train, you’ll likely be eying (and buying) one of many such phones in the near future.
4G: Different Strokes for Different Folks
It’s no secret we love our mobile broadband. We love it so much 3G can barely maintain our demand (well, that and the fact that the various carrier networks are still needing to be built out and beefed up). That’s where 4G comes in. Sprint and Clearwire are riding the WiMax wave now. Meanwhile, AT&T and Verizon are going Long Term…Long Term Evolution, or LTE, that is. Don’t expect that rollout to hit too soon. Verizon customers will likely see LTE network speeds in 2011, while it looks like AT&T customers may want to stock up on those Microcells now…’cuz you’ll be waiting a good while for your LTE. 2012-2013 were the timelines thrown out during CTIA.
Feature Phones: The New App Market Cash Cow?
What if you don’t have a data plan? Tired of being left out of the App game? Well, if this year’s CTIA is any indication all that is about to change. Fast. Some carriers are cozying up to BREW. Others are liking Samsung’s OS. Several software developing companies were on hand at CTIA showing off their applications for “dumb” phones. Silly? Maybe not. With many people cutting their wireless data plans — and global markets in countries like India where most people stick to feature phones — the move may be a cash cow for carriers and independent software vendors (ISVs).
There was an entire pavilion dedicated to safe driving at CTIA. If there was a way to block texts, email, and services while you are behind the wheel, then it was at CTIA. We’ll be covering a few of these solutions from our interviews during the event; including one with a solution called iZup that takes safety and emergency response to a whole new level. Look for our highlight of iZup to hit this week. It’s a service that may very well change how you think about safety and aid accessed through your mobile.
The promise of using your smartphone as your true wallet in the U.S. has been an elusive one at best. We met with the team at First Data during CTIA and they showed us their plan for enabling our smartphones to finally become our wallets.
While the carriers got their spotlight, along with the handset makers like HTC, Nokia, Samsung, Kyocera, etc., there was not much coming from BlackBerry, Palm or Apple (in fact, I saw no Apple presence at CTIA). Sure, there was a big Windows Phone Series 7 booth with demos; but the real OS star was undoubtedly Google’s Android, which seemed to be powering every smartphone getting attention during the event. If recent conventions like CTIA are any indication, devices running Android will continue to hit the market at a frantic pace.
So get ready. We’ve got a special take on last week’s CTIA conference. You may know all about the cool über devices set to hit the scene, but what about the grand scheme behind each wireless carrier’s network roll-out? How about some special apps that you’re gonna want to download to make your smartphone even, well, smarter? We got those too. We’ve gone behind the flurry of press releases to give you the inside track on some of the very best we could find from CTIA.
So what does this mean for you and I? It means mobile and wireless continue to be among the most exciting areas to be involved in — and to be excited about. It means even in an economic downturn, there are innovators who have come up with some truly incredible solutions. It means that you and I will continue to reap the rewards of an industry that continues to revolutionize how we think about “phones.”
Hang on tight. It’s going to be an exciting ride. Keep hitting Gear Diary this week to see some of our favorite CTIA products and interviews.