It’s a Wrap: CTIA Review

Now that the haze of exhaustion has worn off, I’m reviewing my notes from CTIA. Our cheat sheet was spot on — with the exception of an Android phone, that is. The same prototypes were available that folks saw in February at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona, but there was no actual handset there with which to muck around.

Another disappointment was Sprint’s delay of the launch of Xohm until later this summer. Yet even despite the sense that LTE has gained the upper hand with existing carriers, plenty of vendors were showing WiMAX products. But really, the real news at CTIA this year was around the services that can be delivered over a mobile phone, not the phones or the networks on which those services will be accessed.

I left the mobile TV news to NewTeeVee. On the handset side, touch phones reigned, but there was little else to get excited about. Speech recognition, however, has really gained credibility as a navigation tool with a product launch by Yahoo of its speech-powered oneSearch product and several announcements from Nuance Communications, ranging from voicemail to text to a navigation partnership with TeleNav.

Which brings me to the space that I believe will have the most impact on my life in the near term — Internet-connected navigation services. Om has covered the Dash Express, which is designed for the car, but CTIA made me rethink my plans for a Dash and refocus on my phone.

In June, the Samsung Instinct will combine voice, turn-by-turn directions and an unlimited data plan to produce the BLT of personal nav devices. Allowing voice input and output without forcing me to pay an extra $10 a month to access the service makes me consider changing carriers. I also learned about Dial Directions, a voice-activated search service accessed by calling DIR-ECT-IONS. Simply state your current location and where you want to go, and the service will text you turn-by-turn directions. Some of the navigation options from Wayfinder were useful as well.

Indeed, this year the excitement centered on mobile phone services rather than the phones themselves. For carriers worried about, in the words of Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin, becoming mere “bitpipes,” such an emphasis represents both a worry and an opportunity.