Is it time to wave goodbye to CTIA?

May 16, 2012

By Jo Ben Rais, Marketing Consultant
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New Orleans, last week: It’s been a few years since my last visit to CTIA. Back then, the show was in its familiar Las Vegas, full of the buzz of next generation networks and the possibilities they held.

Fast forward to 2012, and the show seems to be in something of a rut. Aside from peak times, the show floor was quiet, and more heavily populated by pushers of handset paraphernalia than by the carriers, vendors and the big names of Silicon Valley who are the real harbingers of major industry developments to come. Many of those big names chose to opt out of exhibiting altogether or to participate with an offsite location or meeting room only.

The atmosphere on the show floor was also flat – in New Orleans, the home of jazz, not one of the larger stands I saw chose to have a live band or even music playing. Instead, rather obscure sand artists and bubble blowers (really) were as good as it got for on-stand entertainment – a far cry from the full-on theatrical production of MWC or CES. Headline grabbing announcements (other than the usual gripes from the carriers against the FCC for spectrum liberalisation) were also thin on the ground.

Speaking to others, the consensus appears to be that it’s CES and Mobile World Congress that are today’s ‘go to’ events. So where does that leave CTIA? One possibility being touted is a consolidation of the two annual CTIA events into one single event, later in the year. Shifting the timing from being third in line right after the other two would certainly make the proposition more appealing. Future events are also being promised with a greater focus on storage, cloud and security.

This proposed change makes total sense. For the many players in the backhaul, transmission and base station network sectors, CES is simply too consumer focused to ever be the right fit. Mobile World Congress more than adequately covers all bases, but the addition of a more diverse CTIA would give those players a happy US home to tout their wares to the carriers and vendors who buy their products.

CTIA? Vive la change, as they would say in the French Quarter.


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