Having to follow two big international wireless tradeshows (GSMA World Congress and CES)  is a big task for CTIA, which was held last week in Las Vegas. I sometimes wonder why they don’t spread these shows out a bit more.

There were not a lot of major announcements at this show. A handful of new handsets were revealed by  the major manufacturers and all of them focused on messaging capabilities. Slider style keyboards seemed to be a major theme and Apple is the only manufacturer that doesn’t have a dedicated keyboard.

The biggest topics at CTIA were centered around software and mobile applications. RIM announced it’s BlackBerry App World and Microsoft talked about its upcoming Windows Marketplace for Mobile. Google and Nokia also have their own plans. With Apple’s App store generating so much buzz, it is no surprise that everyone else is trying to get a piece of the action. App stores are not a new idea and have been around ever since PDAs were popular. The problem was that it wasn’t easy to find an app and install it on your device. The iPhone changed all of that and everyone will probably admit that Apple has changed the way consumers and manufacturers think about applications. It is now an essential part of the success of a smartphone, not just a nice-to-have feature.