CTIA Wireless 2010

The CTIA Wireless 2010 show was recently held in Las Vegas. It is the biggest wireless trade show of the year in North America bringing together wireless hardware manufacturers, software developers,  service providers, industry experts, and pretty much anyone that is involved with wireless. A team from Aumnia, including myself, was there to preview the latest wireless handsets, gadgets, software and market trends. The conference was smaller than previous years highlighting the fact that the industry and the economy in general is still recovering but the activity on the show floor was busy which was a good sign.

Google’s Android OS had a huge presence at this show. Almost every handset manufacturer  showcased a phone running Android. Over 20 new Android handsets were announced during the course of the show. It seemed like Android was turning many handset manufacturers, who previously never had much success in the smartphone market, into serious contenders overnight.

The most impressive smartphone that I saw at the show this year was the Samsung Galaxy S running Android 2.1. In terms of usability, speed, and responsiveness there are not many smartphones that are better than the iPhone, in fact, I personally don’t think there are any at the moment. The Motorola Droid was good and the HTC Nexus One comes very close and if I was an iPhone user (which I am not) wanting to switch to Android, that would be the one to go with…until now. The Samsung Galaxy S is definitely the best Android phone that I have seen to date. The device is fast and super responsive. And the AMOLED screen is amazingly sharp allowing playback of 720p videos. If I were to get an Android phone, this would be the one and it should be available later this summer.

Samsung Galaxy S

Samsung Galaxy S

The other big take away from the show was that all the major carriers in North America were upgrading their networks to 4th generation technology allowing for faster data speeds. There are two competing 4G technologies: WiMAX and LTE. With theoretical speeds of greater than 100Mb/s, DSL and Cable internet providers will have some serious competition. Sprint is currently ahead of the game with 4G deployments in many cities across the USA using WiMAX because unlike LTE, WiMAX hardware is commercially available. WiMAX has already been deployed in many countries worldwide. LTE is newer but with Cisco recently announcing that it will not build WiMAX hardware and AT&T and Verizon both choosing LTE, it looks like LTE (at least in North America) will be the 4G technology of choice.

2010 will be an exciting year for wireless. It will be a big year for Android and I’m looking forward to seeing how Apple responds to this with their new iPhone. It’s great to see companies push each other to the limit in terms of innovation because as consumers, we all benefit from this, no matter what smartphone OS you prefer to use. With 4G networks becoming a reality, I see a trend for more devices that will allow you to share your data connection over WiFi across multiple devices (laptop, netbook, iPad, and even your phone). With 4G being an IP based network, voice usage will primarily be VoIP eliminating the need for voice minutes. It will be interesting to see how the service providers handle this and how data usage will be charged.

Mobile Market Wrap-up for March 26

Last week I attended the CTIA Wireless conference in Las Vegas. Overall, it was a pretty uninspiring conference with lack luster keynotes or energy. There just wasn’t the “buzz” I expected with all the mobile excitement in the marketplace right now. The most interesting keynote was from Dan Hesse, the CEO of Sprint, who discussed their 4G rollout fairly candidly and showcased their new 4G handset the HTC Evo. Sprint has a great vision but I’m just not sure if they can execute or get the subscribers to make it happen.

Here’s a quick summary of my highlights from the conference:

Android, Android, and even more Android. Google did not have a booth at the show nor did they participate in the keynotes, but they were definitely present. Android was everywhere! Every booth I seemed to stop at had something to do with Android – new handsets, gadgets, apps, etc. The Google marketing machine is in full force and has taken a life of its own.

Samsung GalaxyS has the best screen I’ve ever seen. I want one! I stopped by the Samsung booth and played around with the GalaxyS. It’s a very iPhone-like device with a similar form factor and icons, but the GalaxyS has two things the iPhone doesn’t – an amazing screen and fast processor. Samsung’s new super AMOLED screens are truly amazing. The device and screen are very responsive and web pages load at blazing speeds. Best of all, it’s based on Android, so the interface is fairly intuitive. Samsung has not announced a US launch date or carrier but I’ll let you know when I find out.

Windows Phone 7 demo was “interesting”. As expected, Microsoft was there in full force giving demos of their upcoming Windows Phone 7 OS. It’s a clean user interface that can differentiate them in the marketplace (which is good) but sometimes I felt like it was too gimmicky. Unfortunately the demos were “guided tours” so I won’t really know what it’s like until I get my hands on a device.

BlackBerry really needs help. BlackBerry had a large booth to showcase their…umm…aging technology. Very very boring! I’m a huge BlackBerry fan and am clinging onto my handset hoping they will do something disruptive, but if this show was any representation of where the company is headed… all I can say is bring on Android.

Text-to-speech apps are everywhere, why? I saw at least a dozen text-to-speech companies on the show floor that all looked the same. I understand the value but I still find it very boring.  My car has now become the cone-of-silence… my place for solitude from being connected all the time. I use the time to listen to the radio or music and enjoy having my phone on silent.

That’s it for this week’s update. As always, if you see or hear anything else interesting in mobile, let us know by leaving a comment below.