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Oct 13

Written by: J. Gerry Purdy

The CTIA is the trade and lobby organization that represents wireless operators, handset manufacturers and the rest of the wireless industry in Washington, DC.  In order to pay for their lobbying efforts, the CTIA produces two trade shows a year: a large mega show in the spring and a smaller show focused on enterprise & entertainment in the fall. 

I was in San Francisco to attend CTIA Enterprise & Entertainment at Mascone Center West this past week.  Due to the tough economy, this show was much smaller than in previous years.  It seems to me that CTIA’s CEO, past NFL star Steve Largent, should combine the two shows into one and move it to be a little later in the Spring to become a good offset to the GSMA Mobile World Congress held in Barcelona in February. 

Most of my time was spent going from one meeting to another.  I never once set foot in the exhibition area.

ShowStoppers event is held for members of the press and analysts the night before the start of CTIA

On Tuesday evening, Oct. 5, I attended the ShowStoppers event run by my good friends Steve, Dave & Bob Leon.  They had a number of good companies attending to meet with invited press and analysts.  Here’s a quick summary of those I met:

AdelaVoice.  StartTalking allows you to send text messages & listen to incoming text messages as they arrive, reply to messages, post to Twitter and Facebook, etc.

aisle411.  There’s always one meeting that you have that turns out unexpectedly to be a real surprise.  aisle411 solves the constant problem we all have when visiting large retail stores like Home Depot and grocery stores: how do you find things?  aisle411 is generating databases of item locations in stores plus gaining input from users to make finding this easier.  Clearly they can then offer coupons as a way to make money.  I especially liked their grocery list that then turns into a routing map of the store. 

Damaka.  I met with Ramesh Chaturvedi, Chief Strategy Officer. These folks have a cool technology solution to allow 3-4 people to share a voice conference call.  The bandwidth management is certainly challenging but they have a good solution.  Video conferencing is not widely accepted but is gaining interest due to FaceTime being introduced on the iPhone 4.  Some people are rather frightened about showing their image while talking.  This application is focused on the enterprise and could help migrate expensive desktop video solutions to mobile.

DeviceAnywhere. The company has racks of mobile phones and connectivity that allows enterprise & consumer developers to remotely test their applications on a number of different phones. I met with Leila Modarres, VP of Marketing.

F-Secure. You’re seeing more attention to security in mobile due to the migration of phones to being small computer systems.  F-Secure showed off Mobile Security 6, their security software.  See write up of another mobile security company – Lookout – below.

NAVTEQ demonstrated their enhanced navigation system that uses easy to recognize visual cues to assist with directions

NAVTEQ. I really liked their new Natural Guidance™ system.  You had to wonder what navigation firms would do to counter free turn-by-turn navigation provided by Google. Natural Guidance is a good answer: it adds a layer of intelligence on the navigation process to use local landmarks to make it easier to understand what you need to do as a driver. 

Novatel. I talked with Charlotte Rubin, Sr. Director of PR. Novatel showed their latest rendition of their popular MiFi unit that now supports HSDPA and includes a microSD slot to allow side-loading of information (e.g. photos) so they can be shared with all on the MiFi unit. The company has also launched their software platform to extend local networking among users connected to the MiFi unit. 

SEVEN. SEVEN Networks’ latest version of its mobile applications for Android extends all major email and IM services to Android 2.2 devices.  SEVEN is clearly extending the original focus on wireless email into social networking messaging with this announcement so that you can conduct, for example, a Facebook messaging sequence completely from your Android SmartPhone.

MillennialMedia.  I met with Mack McKelvey and Kathleen Morris.  MillennialMedia is one of the major mobile ad networks (similar to AdMob). They hold spaces on mobile versions of many web sites and sell those ads slots to companies for various promotions.

Briefing Meetings

I had a number of really good briefing meetings with some exciting companies.  To me, this is the only real value that directly comes out of attending CTIA.

DIDMO/GetJar.  DIDMO is another application generator.  I met with Angelo Biasi.  They announced a distribution partnership with GetJar that provides an online store for mobile apps.  This gives DIDMO developers an additional distribution channel. 

HeyWire. One of the problems with sending text internationally is the cost.  While you may be on an unlimited text plan in the U.S., it will cost you anywhere between $.25 and $1.00 to send/receive a text from someone outside the U.S. HeyWire solves that by sending the text over the internet to others who have a HeyWire account.  Thus, if you often send texts to someone in Europe, you could both get a HeyWire account and then text to each other for free.  HeyWire makes money via advertising.  HeyWire also allows users to interact via social messaging, chat and IM and, thus, HeyWire in this instance becomes a ‘control tower’ for messaging between mobile users and their social networking appearances. 

Intel.  My meeting with Intel was under NDA. While I can’t relate what was discussed, you can be assured that Intel plans to become a major player in the SmartPhone market.

Lookout.  I met with John Hering (CEO) and Alicia Divittorio (Marketing) who explained that Lookout Mobile Security solves four classes of mobile security problems: 1) antivirus, 2) backup, 3) missing device and 4) device management.  They do not address on-device data encryption.  I like their poetic statement for managing a missing device: locate (via GPS and mapping), scream (loud signal) and nuke (remote kill).  This is a well-funded startup that is doing quite well.  John is an outstanding young CEO and reminds me of Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook.

Nokia. The Nokia analyst team held a meeting to give an update on developments with their product line (simpler) and with their services portal Ovi. Nokia Research Center folks highlighted futuristic product demos including a way for the camera to sense hand gestures.  Nokia is focusing on four key new Symbianˇ3 products: N8 for high end entertainment, C7 for style, E7 for business users and C6 for compact full touch solution designed for friends and family.  They still need to figure out how to succeed in North  America (see my Open Letter to Stephen Elop, Inside Mobile, Sept. 29. 2010).

PocketGear.  I met with Dov Cohen, VP of Marketing for PocketGear. The company just landed $15 million in new financing. They are building out their app store platform that can provide applications to many different device and OS platforms.

SmashCode. I met with Eric Boduch, the CEO.  They have created a mobile commerce platform that uses SMS text messaging for all the interactions including banking.

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse discusses Sprint
ID, a way to customize Android handsets

Sprint ID. Mobile platforms like Apple’s iOS provide the same interface and experience to all users.  Andoid allows for more customization to the OS itself and to interfaces that sit on top of the OS.  Some handset firms are already adding specific special environments to their Android devices such as Motorola with MOTOBLUR and HTC with Sense.  Now, Sprint has taken this approach one big step further with the introduction of Sprint ID which allows software developers to create entire user experiences from desktop background displays, specific applications, custom ring tones, etc. so that the user gets more a custom experience for the dedicated intention, e.g. an enterprise could use Sprint ID to create a custom experience for their employees.  This is a very good extension to the Android platform.  We’ll likely see more efforts like this in the future.  Kudos to Sprint and a number of partners for creating a more custom user experience for defined communities of users.

Wireless Innovators

Dr. Gerry Purdy welcoming everyone to the Wireless Innovators dinner

Wednesday night was the highlight of the trip to San Francisco.   I produced another Wireless Innovators dinner for leaders in the wireless industry.  The purpose is to bring together all the different sectors of the mobile and wireless industry so interaction and networking could be conducted.  The dinner was sponsored by Headwaters MB, a mid-tier investment bank (Grant Garbers) and Pillsbury Law (Glenn Richards).  We had 65 sign up for the dinner that included handset makers, operators, VCs, investment bankers, software, press & analysts.

Grant Garbers of dinner sponsors
Headwaters MB with Dr. Purdy

The dinner keynote was presented by Rob Tiffany, Product Architect from Microsoft regarding the just announced (as of Monday, Oct. 11) Windows Phone 7 mobile OS. Rob gave an excellent background on how Microsoft went about designing this new OS and then presented a number of the major themes of the OS.  Look for my review of Phone 7 in my column next week.

We had a number of technology demonstrations/presentations at the dinner that demonstrated some exciting new mobile and wireless technologies.

Rob Tiffany giving the keynote address showing off Windows Phone 7

VivoTech. Mohammad Khan (‘Khan’) described how retail point of sale terminals (that we all use with credit and debit cards) will soon migrate to wireless sensors that can read a chip attached to or embedded in our phone.  This will allow for a true ‘mWallet”

Nuance. Voice processing is now gaining acceptance in mobile. Nuance has previously demonstrated the ability to compose text messages from speech.  Aaron Masih demonstrated their new voice command and control and email composition system that assists mobile users to use voice for most of the mobile phone activities while driving.

Rhomobile.  Adam Blum demonstrated the Rhodes platform that assists (commercial and well as consumer) developers in building mobile applications. 

Antenna.  Jim Somers did one of the best presentations of the evening by showing how important mobile applications have become for the enterprise with support of both internal (employee facing) and external (customer facing) requirements.

mPura.  Selvan Rajan demonstrated the mPura secure social gaming platform with an example of being able to purchase a lottery ticket online.  The user must be verified and can only purchase the lottery ticket if within the state the ticket is sold.  It’s a tough problem to solve but they are almost finished with the development. 

I now return to my traditional role of an industry analyst.  If you have a challenging problem in which you could use some outside assistance, contact me so we can see if I can be of help to you.

Written By:

J. Gerry Purdy, Ph.D.
Principal Analyst
Mobile & Wireless
MobileTrax LLC
[email protected]
Disclosure Statement: From time to time, I may have a direct or indirect equity position in a company that is mentioned in this column.  If that situation happens, then I’ll disclose it at that time.


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