Top 5 Trends to Expect at CTIA

CTIA 2007 PREVIEW: While you’re checking out this 5 points user guide to the CTIA convention – the Super Bowl of mobile conferences – I’m likely trying to find a comfortable position on a redeye headed for hot Orlando. Hopefully it’s not too bumpy.

Like Helio’s ads “Don’t call us a phone company,” the rest of the mobile industry will try to rally the market around mobile data — mobile TV, cell phone entertainment, mobile social networking, and mobile ads – at CTIA which opens in a few hours from now.

Too bad, as analysts at Informa Telecoms & Media point out: “the vast majority of revenue growth – both for the operator and vendor communities – is coming out of developing markets where mobile is fulfilling a basic need for voice and text-based communications.” Yeah, but that’s not as much fun to show off in a demo booth. Anyway, on to the top 5 trends:

1) Mobile TV – Qualcomm’s broadcast mobile TV network is finally live in the U.S. and mobile TV vendors and video content companies now have a working platform to tout their efforts. Chip companies will showcase mobile TV chips, while media companies will announce new video content.

Verizon Wireless is the first US carrier to sell the service, and Cingular will follow soon. Hopefully AT&T COO Randall Stephenson will give us an update on the status of the rollout. Monday morning we’re picking up one of the handsets used for Verizon Wireless’ VCAST Mobile TV service. Yay.

2) Mobile Ads – Declining future voice revenues are forcing the mobile business to look at mobile ads as a way to give the bottom line a quick boost. Informa predicts mobile advertising will be around $11.3 billion by 2011. Which means, an announcement overload.

AdMob, a San Mateo, Calif.-based company will announce that it has raised $15 million in fresh funding in a round led by Accel Partners. Other startups like Xipto are showing new mobile ad-driven services like their endorsement-driven mobile advertising platform, and Millenial Media announced some new technology for rich media mobile ad campaigns.

3) iPhone and mobile UI:– We’ll see if the iPhone makes an actual appearance (or an update from AT&T’s COO), but its presence will no doubt be felt on the UI front. We should expect more companies to showcase the fluid user interface and prototypes of touch screen phones. It looks like the much awaited iPhone and the LG Prada phone will have some new competiton.

4) Lack of compelling new handsets: Moto CEO decided to cancel his keynote, a sign that Moto’s having an uh-oh moment! But is also is indicative of how quickly winds change in the handset business. Cell phone makers can’t rest on the laurels of big hits like the RAZR for too long and are trying create the new hits of 2007.

We’ll search for innovation, but we’re not too optimistic. For some reason Chinese handset maker TCL thinks Alcatel-branded handsets are a good idea and Sprint’s getting a new music phone from Samsung, the m620 or UpStage. Though Helio’s Ocean does look like a pretty nice messaging device.

5) Mobile User Generated Content – There is going to be a lot of buzz around mobile services that help subscribers create and share mobile content. StreamVerse is talking about Mojo, a service for creating mobile content that it hopes will help wireless carriers make money. Mobidia is announcing its mobile application called CUBuddy that lets users create video calls between cell phones. This is actually one part of the mobile ecosystem which could turn casual data users into 3G customers, and help goose up the carrier ARPU.