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CTIA Day 1 Thoughts

2009 October 7
by David Eads

My first day at CTIA in San Diego seems to sum up my experience in the overall mobile market. There are lots of smart people all pulling the industry in separate directions, yet we keep moving forward despite ourselves.

The keynote started with the FCC Chairman pointing out his business experience and love for free market solutions at every opportunity. He made the case that Net Neutrality regulation is an attempt to keep the market open and fair and not allow intervention by any parties.

Then AT&T’s Ralph de la Vega spoke and made the opposite case that carriers don’t need regulation because the US market has been so successful.

I saw the stats in market share and devices supported and I don’t doubt it. But what matters is the ultimate usefulness to end users. At the end of the day we pay more for less capability here in the US. Yet overall the mobile ecosystem grew by 16% last year, according to de la Vega.

To this point, Ericson demoed an application for carriers used outside the US to coordinate mobile ads between agencies and carriers. It’s a shame such an app even needs to exist to keep the peace. It’s even more sad that it seems nothing like it is even used here. We’re just stuck.

I did have fun playing with bCode’s kiosk that scans an SMS message off the phone image and prints a paper barcode for POS scanning. I also enjoyed seeing the Barnes & Noble book reader application on many devices. $100 million were spent on ebooks last year. I suspect growth will be steep this year.

Of course there were also NFC solutions. Poor NFC, everyone is innovating so hard around the roadblocks that never seem to go away. It’s not fair to blame this entirely on the carriers, but I don’t see concrete movement to end the stalemate.

In the end, I’m seeing real companies make real money with mobile, despite all the challenges.

This is what it’s all about.

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