After January’s CES, Las Vegas this year has once more become the focal point of the computer and telecommunications industry. From April 1st through 3rd, international trade association of mobile telecommunication CTIA (abbreviating “Cellular Telephone Industries Association” originally) held the CTIA Wireless — one of the biggest and most significant international trade shows and congresses of the branch.
According to media reports, in contrast to last month’s CeBIT in Hannover, this year’s CTIA Wireless and its 1,000 exhibitors hardly showed any moods of crisis. Quite the contrary: In their keynotes, the participating industry leaders such as Verizon-CEO Ivan Seidenberg or T-Mobile-CEO Robert Dotson virtually fell over one another to launch euphoric superlatives and enthusiastic predictions for the future. Figures frequently cited were the current 270 million of US-American subscribers of wireless services (87% of the population) as well as the tripling of sent SMS and MMS within the USA, compared to the year before, to a current 3.5 billion… per day. Seidenberg and colleagues even went as far as to not only certify the wireless business a remarkable resistance against the current global financial crisis but, above that, the capability to end it!
Mobile devices more and more become an integral part of people’s lives, having long gone beyond merely being some handy accessory. In logical consequence, mobile marketing is in the midst of overtaking online marketing via Internet. It’s due to this that the organizers chose “Mobile Life” quite fittingly as the motto of this year’s CTIA Wireless.
Specifically, the show revolved all around apps, apps and even more apps. Thanks in particular to integrated application download portals like Apple’s AppStore or the Android Market, throughout the last twelve months a downright deluge of mobile software innovations has emerged. That’s a trend Blackberry-makers RIM want to join, and thus they presented the official AppStore-equivalent for Blackberries, named App World. Another highlight of the show was the long-desired Skype for iPhones, the US-service for which is planned to go on line in May. (However, it’s still open, in how far cell phone carriers will support this. In Germany, for instance, T-Mobile want to block Skype on iPhones they distribute. When it’s about making money, this isn’t the first time progress has had to take a back seat.)
“Mobile Life” — this ever more often also means “Mobile Health”. The cell phone as a health assistant and monitor for patients as well as for physicians constituted another thematic emphasis of the show. Panel speaker Dr. Eric Topol for instance presented an application by Corventis, which turns the iPhone into a fully functional electrocardiograph by means of a small, Bluetooth-enabled accessory called PiiX (as in “peaks”, alright). Supposedly, remote monitoring like this will allow savings in US health care costs of up to $10 billion US every year. Mobile health care is particularly intended to provide elderly people with more security and autonomy in every day life.
CTIA Wireless ‘09: Al Gore draws parallels between digital technology going mobile and Luther’s reformation movement (simply click on the play button)
On its last day, the show received a grand finale in the shape of a speech by former US vice president and Nobel peace prize winner Al Gore. He expressed enthusiasm for the increasing mobility and complexity of digital technology, even declaring this development a key element in the fight against climate change due to its positive effects on individual productivity. According to an old African proverb, whoever wants to go quickly should walk alone. Whoever wants to go far though should walk together. Man today, according to Gore, needs to go far quickly, so he needs independence as well as mutual support. Today, this is made possible by mobile communication technology.
One may share the CTIA panel’s gushing confidence or not. Maybe, they did lay it on thick somewhat here and there. However, allowing ourselves to get infected by that symbolic optimism made in USA a bit might actually be an inspiring refreshment for us ever skeptical, hesitant German folks. Yes, we can.