Las Vegas telecoms show fizzles out
The CTIA’s annual U.S. wireless technology showcase in Las Vegas was quieter than usual this year as vendors sent fewer employees and rented less floor space for their booths in an effort to crimp spending due to the recession.
Aside from a lot of talk about cellphone applications and a software store launch from BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, the show offered few surprises.
A handful of operators and vendors, however, offered insights into their technology strategies — even if they were less than keen to indicate how their businesses were faring exactly. Some even launched new gadgets.
AT&T, the exclusive operator for the iPhone, used the show as an opportunity to talk up application sales for its less fancy phones, which have brought it $1 billion in revenue in the last few years. In comparison, it does not get a revenue share for iPhone apps, which kicked of the craze for application stores when they launched last year.
However, the carrier noted that its more traditional phones are a much bigger business than high-profile, advanced devices like iPhone.
“About 25 percent of our portfolio is smartphones. That means that 75 percent of them are not,” AT&T chief marketing officer David Christoper told reporters at a lunch on the sidelines of the show on Thursday.
AT&T, behind only Verizon in subscriber numbers, also talked about the need to offer new pricing options for mobile data in future. It is expected to be a year or more behind Verizon Wireless in upgrading its network to a high-speed technology known as “long term evolution”.
But when it does, likely in 2011, it expects to cut data access fees and stop charging for phone calls by the minute. Instead it may charge data access fees based on how much netwok capacity a customer uses up.
“It will be an environment where people buy the amount of data they need,” Ralph de la Vega, the head of AT&T’s mobility business, told reporters. “We’ll be able to sell them a lot more data than we do today for a lower price.”
Qualcomm investor relations executive Bill Davidson declined to comment on prospects for a general return for chip demand, but in an interview with Reuters, he said that the company is expecting big growth from markets such as China and India.
While China is often cited as the emerging market for wireless growth, Davidson said the expected award of licenses to build 3G high-speed networks in India, could bring even more growth.
At its booth, Qualcomm showed a prototype consumer electronics charger called eZone, which could charge as many as five gadgets such as phones, cameras or music players simultaneously. The gadgets are placed in no particular order on a flat rectangular plate that is plugged into a power source.
Qualcomm said it is talking to different device manufacturers about incorporating the technology in their devices. If it brings the product to market it would likely have partner companies manufacture the device.
(Reuters Photo: Ralph de la Vega at CTIA by David Becker)