Final CTIA Post: Why Was It So Quiet?

I asked plenty of people the usual event questions this week at CTIA: “Seen anything cool?” “What’s exciting at the show?” and the like. The usual reaction? A bit of a shrug and an “Uhhhh…”

Other people seemed to have similar thoughts as well. In years past, CTIA’s been a massive show with all sorts of news coming out of it. This year? Not so much. The content and entertainment companies that had made their presence felt before were largely invisible, along with anything else consumer-focused. Handset announcements were minimal, and a lot of things that had made a lot of noise in years past (mobile TV, for instance) were pretty quiet.

So what’s changed? I suspect the cost of the show, coupled with the current economic state of things kept a lot of companies out. I also think that a lot of companies are choosing to go to CES or MWC instead of CTIA; while many other small companies are eschewing big trade shows altogether, perhaps in favor of smaller events like Over the Air in London or Web 2.0 in SF.

But I think perhaps the biggest reason for the current state of CTIA is that it’s a reflection of the current US mobile market. CTIA is an operators’ trade group, and this is their show. And those operators are the ones currently making money in the US mobile market. So CTIA gets dominated by people clamoring for operators’ spending: network gear vendors, distributors and retailers and so on.

If you were at CTIA, or just following what came out of it, I’m interested to know what you think — and what you think of the future of events like these in the future.

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