2012 Mobility Awards Dinner
The main theme of this year’s annual CTIA Wireless trade show and conference seemed to revolve around the tremendous growth in transmittal of rich media such as photos, songs and videos. Smartphones now comprise more than 50% of total cell phone sales (vs. feature phones) and each smartphone either creates rich media to upload and share elsewhere on places like Facebook or they consume rich media from such sources as YouTube or TV segments covering news, weather and sports. One HD video can be a number of gigabytes.
It doesn’t take long for most anyone to realize that trying to transmit millions HD videos every day challenges wireless broadband networks originally designed to transmit kilobytes of voice calls.
Long-term, the Federal Government and private industry need to work together to allocate significantly more wireless spectrum akin to building more highways to accommodate a gigantic increase in traffic. It will likely take something akin to creating the Interstate highway system for wireless.
In the short-term, there is a push to move traffic off the cellular networks and on to Wi-Fi networks. Relatively speaking, Wi-Fi can provide up to 300M bps vs. 5M bps over cellular (constrained by the Internet access backhaul). In addition, the operators are using small Pico cells to provide more access points.
I had a number of interesting meetings during two full days at the show. Here’s a summary of the meetings I had.
- 10n2 Technologies – An Irish-based company that has a very novel way to discriminate between the driver and a passenger in a car in order to disable texting: they do an ‘attention test’ that requires the person holding the smartphone to enter a sequence over a 5-10 second period that is presented to them. If the person is driving, they simply can’t do the test, and texting and various calling functions are then disabled. If they can do the test while the car is in motion, then they are allowed to do texting and calling.
- Antenna Software – I met with Jim Sommers and Ken Parmelee who went through their new ‘integrated’ mobile development and management platform for the enterprise. See the diagram that shows the major system components. Enterprise IT execs are being challenged to both develop mobile apps and then manage them and the associated data on the explosion of mobile devices used by employees.
- HTC – They focused most of their booth on the HTC One, their newest smartphone that demonstrates HTC is back in the game for creating innovative smartphone devices combined with software and services. See the photo for more details. It’s affirming to see that handset manufactures are still able to provide substantial innovation in the smartphone form factor. It’s hard to imagine what a smartphone will be able to do in 2020 years.
- INRIX – The company has multiple channels of information about traffic, can adjust the estimated time of arrival (ETA) and can offer alternate paths to reach the destination earlier. They compete with Nokia’s NAVTEQ group for the real-time traffic market. Before long, all navigation applications will present traffic in addition to routing.
- iOnRoad - An Israeli company that has developed software for smartphones that uses the smartphone’s camera to monitor nearby vehicles and provides feedback if a dangerous situation develops. For example, with the smartphone camera placed somewhere in the window of the vehicle, the software will look at the car ahead and then give feedback to the driver if the two cars are approaching too fast or are too close together. You get a sense from seeing this that a video ‘forward facing’ camera will be added to all cars before long and software will assist in making the driving experience safer – much like rear facing cameras are now becoming pervasive in all major brands – as well as software to prevent backing into other objects or even controlling the car to parallel park (Ford).
- KORE Telematics – One of the most successful in telematics with focus on vehicle monitoring particularly in the service and trucking industries.
- LifecommPERS – A startup funded in part by Hughes Telematics, Qualcomm, and American Medical Alert is designed to use cellular technology to support the care of elderly by providing a data communications-enabled ‘smart watch.’ It can detect if someone falls and can automatically contact an emergency support center. It can open a voice channel so that an operator can see if the person is able to respond, and it allows the user to simply press on the display to activate a request for help. The system is CDAM-based now, but a GSM version is under development.
- Locaid – Provides secure location based services for enterprises particularly in the financial industry where location needs to be verified in order to complete a financial transaction. Consumer GPS can be spoofed but Locaid prevents spoofing and verifies the location.
- Mosaik Solutions – Wouldn’t it be great if someone could put a database together that could show all the coverage areas by every wireless service provider in the entire world? It would be even greater if the system could show cable TV coverage and phone company coverages as well. Mosaik Solutions has a database and sophisticated mapping and filtering software that enables those involved with mergers and acquisitions, as well as those involved with business development, to see all the coverage areas. It’s one of the most impressive presentation systems I’ve ever seen.
- Nokia – The Lumia 900 is now shipping in the US, and Nokia is leveraging their partnership with Microsoft. The partnership is beginning to show results with sales picking up with multiple carriers.
- Numerex – They focus on developing custom wireless monitoring systems for companies. It’s interesting that both KORE Telematics and Numerex are located in Atlanta. While they don’t directly compete, they both demonstrate that wireless monitoring is getting to be a big business.
- Poynt – They have one of the best location-based service applications for mobile that provides access to movies, restaurants, businesses, people and gas stations based on the user’s location. Their proposition is to make it really easy for people to find things locally so they don’t have to go from one silo app to another.
- Small Cell Forum – Operators are implementing small cells to fill the gaps and provide more bandwidth to operators.
- Stoke – They have developed software for operators that allows them to integrate Wi-Fi with LTE, so that the user can maintain a single session while in two coverage areas.
- Sybase mCommerce 365 – Continuing to leverage the customer base through SAP and is now leveraging large operator rollouts for mobile commerce through Telefonica and others.
- Wi-Fi Alliance – We reviewed the latest developments in Wi-Fi standards and discussed how the standards get approved. The Alliance expects to see both 8021.ac and ad provide solutions in market by the end of the year and final acceptance by 2013. They are also working with operators to finalize Hotspot 2.0 to enable roaming between Wi-Fi and wide area cellular and Wi-Fi Direct that enables two computers to communicate directly without having to go to through an Access Point. The Wi-Fi Alliance also manages a certification program.
We held the 2012 Mobility Awards banquet on Wednesday, May 9th, at the New Orleans Marriott at the Convention Center. The Welcome address was given by Gary Moon, Head of the Technology Practice, Headwaters MB. They are quite successful in helping fast-growing, private companies find an appropriate buyer that will enable the private company to grow much faster than they can do by themselves and to offer 'liquidity' to the principals and investors in the private company.
Ed O’Meara, Sr. VP, KBM Group, gave an industry insight. KBM is part of WPP, the largest digital advertising and analytics firm in the world. KBM does sophisticated network analytics that enable wireless operators to figure out where they need to focus their resources to improve service.
Glenn Lurie, President of Emerging Devices and Innovation, AT&T Mobility gave a great keynote address showing how much growth the operator has experienced as a result of the roll out of the iPhone and other smartphone devices. Glenn is now in charge of a new initiative to foster innovation – that will identify major new markets for AT&T Mobility.
The 2012 Mobility Awards were then presented to those who were present at the dinner. The complete list of winners can be found here. The following are the companies, the person accepting the Mobility Award and a list of the Mobility Awards they won (some won multiple awards).
Amazon (Paul Graham)
Tablets – Small Screen: Kindle Fire
Rookie of the Year: Kindle Fire
Product of the Year: Kindle Fire
Appcelerator (Mark Pastoret)
Mobile Software – Application Development (Consumer): Appcelerator Integrated Development Platform
Barnes & Noble (Claudia Romanini)
Tablets – eReaders: Nook Color™ and Nook Simple Touch
Carrier IQ (Andrew Coward)
WirelessCommunications – Wireless Network Analytics: Carrier IQ
Digby (Dan Lowden)
Mobile Marketing – Mobile Marketing Platforms: Digby Localpoint
KORE Telematics (Chuck Horne)
Enterprise Mobility - Machine to Machine (M2M): KORE Telematics
Samsung (Teri Daley)
SmartPhones – Google Android Platform: Samsung Galaxy S™ II, Nexus and Skyrocket
SanDisk (Jayne Ferguson)
Hardware – Flash Storage: SanDisk
Skyhook Wireless (Mike Shean)
Wireless Communications – Wi-Fi: Skyhook Wireless
Verizon Wireless (Glenn Eggert)
WirelessCommunications– Cellular Network (Hardware & Software): Verizon Wireless LTE Network
Zynga (David Woodward)
Mobile Software – Mobile Gaming: Zynga
Click on this link to see the online photos from the dinner.
It’s clear to me that the CTIA shows are becoming less important than either CES (January in Las Vegas) or GSMA’s Mobile World Congress (February in Barcelona). Kevin Flitchard of GigaOM makes a case that the core problem that CTIA faces is almost total reliance on wireless operators which has made handset makers and software firms less important in the show. Samsung, Motorola, Microsoft and Nokia didn’t have a major presence like they have in the past.
I wish that the GSMA would move MWC to April-May-June so that everyone in mobile and wireless could focus on CES in January and then on MWC in the spring or summer. Or, perhaps GSMA could produce MWC/NA (for ‘North America’) in the late summer or early fall. CTIA isn’t going by the wayside anytime soon, but they clearly have to do things very different from the way they have done them in the past in order to stay relevant.
Another mega change at technology trade shows is that booths are being replaced by rows and rows of meeting rooms. There were literally hundreds of meeting rooms at CTIA – it seemed that there were about as many (smaller) meeting rooms as there were (larger) booths.
It might be a good idea to use speed dating software to schedule people every 30 minutes. Bell rings, everyone gets up and moves to the next appointment with the show’s mobile app showing attendees the location of their next meeting and the server software generating an optimized route.
Almost everything that anyone would want to show someone at a CTIA show could be sitting on a table in a small conference room and/or shown on a large monitor on the conference room wall.
Watch for major changes in technology trade shows over the coming years.
J. Gerry Purdy, Ph.D.
Mobile & Wireless
Dr. Purdy writes a weekly column via eWeek, a leading online & digital publisher with millions of readers. Some of these columns are distributed via Inside Mobile with approval from eWeek.