CTIA Energizes This Year’s Show With Focus On Developers

Wireless carriers typically take center stage at CTIA, but this week in Las Vegas expect it to be a bit more balanced: Event organizers are doing more than ever before to cater to the changing landscape of the industry.

The show will focus much more on application developers and start-ups with keynotes and at least two additional multi-day conference tracks aimed at them. Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) may have kicked off the application trend with the iPhone, but it has since become top of mind for every part of the ecosystem from the carriers to handset makers and content companies. At CTIA this week, we will be reminded of that more than ever.

Pre-show events kick off today with special sessions focused on topics, such as mobile advertising and mobile payments. The main show kicks off tomorrow with keynotes for the week coming from AT&T (NYSE: T), Sprint (NYSE: S), Clearwire (NSDQ: CLWR), Deutsche Telekom (NYSE: DT), Cisco (NSDQ: CSCO) and others. The day three keynote even includes a presentation from Twitter’s Co-founder Biz Stone.

As for the application developers, there will be at least two multi-day tracks specifically tailored for them. Much like App Planet at Mobile World Congress in Spain this year, CTIA will have Apps World, which is being described as “a place for developers to network, be educated….and stay caffeinated.” Another track, which is being produced by Open Mobile Solutions, is hosting a number of pitch sessions, which will give five companies an hour to present their mobile application to a panel of industry experts, who will provide feedback. CTIA will also have WIP Jam, the long-standing developer-focused event.

Over the past couple of years, attendees to the two CTIA shows often complained about the lack of news and the refusal by organizers to recognize how important applications and developers were to the ecosystem. The Spring show, in particular, often fell flat after following two heavy-hitting shows like CES in January and Mobile World Congress in February. But this time, it seems like there’s potential for a lot of buzz. What wasn’t ready to release in Spain will be announced this week in Las Vegas. For example, Verizon Wireless announced its partnership with Skype in Spain, and this week they are expected to unveil the VoIP product. Plus, there will be press conferences from Verizon Wireless, Sprint, Samsung, Ericsson (NSDQ: ERIC) and others. One of the bigger news stories expected include the launch of the first 4G phone running over Sprint’s WiMax network.

Expect start-ups to also play a more central role. At the 2008 Fall show, I specifically noted the lack of start-ups, like Twitter and Qik, despite it being hosted in San Francisco. Qik attended the following show in the Spring of 2009, and now a year and a half later, Twitter is making its way on to the scene. It may have taken awhile, and it still may not be perfect, but it’s progress.