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”.