Long Day’s Journey Into Night

The first official day of CTIA 2005 is over although the unofficial day continues long into night judging by the sounds in the hotel hallway. The total immersion mobile experience so far has been alternately jawdropping, illuminating, confusing and exhausting. For every burst of creativity or announcement of a new deal, there’s a dash of cold water from the limitations of today’s mobile industry. Geo-based notions are stymied by the delayed implementation of location-based services by U.S. carriers. Content pricing and packaging are constrained by billing limitations. Content developers are constantly forced to reinvent the wheel to customize offerings by carrier, when at least some of that energy — and cost — could go to actual development.
From CTIA 2005 day 1:
— working with some Italian attendees to unscramble the directions for downloading the conference schedule by bluetooth. Once it was in the phone, the Wide Ray browser sponsored by Freescale Semiconductor actually makes life easier as a substitute for the pound-plus print guide.
— the three-part keynote starting with the elegantly effusive P.Diddy, who quoted Marshall McLuhan and reminded the audience of the power of celebrity to move dollars. Eastman Kodak CEO Dan Carp did a great infomercial for his company’s new wireless products, including the already available wireless printer and the wireless camera set for a 2Q debut if all goes well. ESPN president George Bodenheimer didn’t have much new to say but injected some laughter with ESPN’s trademark commercials as he illustrated the passion of fans. All three accomplished the goal for the session of showcasing non-traditional entrants to the wireless industry.
— the neverending line at the full-scale Starbucks in Hall C, which quickly became the defacto meeting space for hundreds of attendees at any given time.
— the quick overcrowding of the various wireless airwaves as an untold number of networks and mobile phones went into action. Just looking for a bluetooth device could net dozens of nearby possibilities. Ditto for scanning networks.
— the marketing ploy that left some attendees shaking their heads: a mini-medicine kit from Samsung with antacid, asparin and bandaids handed out with Mardi Gras beads by a bevy of women. Sponsoring a stress kit sounds like a great idea but the lingering image connects the brand with headaches and heartburn.
— the Nokia folks at Pepcom’s Mobile Focus who sent a picture to a random printer just to see where it would end up. They were still trying to figure out the landing zone when a Sony Ericcson staffer came up with the print — she used the clues in the picture to decipher where it belonged. A fun moment but just imagine the havoc that could be wreaked on unsecured devices and unsuspecting casual consumers.
— the Kyocera performance artists wearing TV monitors on their shoulders who chanted my name and clapped as I waited at the corner outside the convention center.
— the utterly peaceful scene as MobiTV’s reception in the courtyard at the Maison Depuy ended around 9 p.m. Crescent moon above, lights twinkling and the quiet chatter of people who have moved blocks away from the convention center but still can’t resist playing show and tell with their phones.