Live Report From CTIA Keynotes

Moblogging here from the CTIA conference keynote room, where the audience is being indulged in a wide view of what’s next in the wireless industry.

LG Electronics of Korea was first on the schedule with real world demonstrations of the connected home concept, which is a government-driven initiative in South Korea. Juno Cho, President of the InfoComm used an LG phone over a live commercial 1xRTT network to control a suite of home devices including lights, HVAC, a stove, and the ever-present smart-fridge with inventory reporting. Although there are many opinions regarding the viability of these products, we believe that they are almost inevitable.

Up next was Hip Hop impresario Russell Simmons, who is behind Def Jam records and a number of top hip hop musicians, as well as fashion and more. Mr. Simmons, naturally, focused on the content side of the mobile ecosystem, with a bit too much of a bias towards youth. Simmons assumed that fate of the entire industry will be determined by our ability to attract the hip hop culture-inspired youth. We know this to be not entirely correct, since the mobile professional remains a very important market, but perhaps Simmons was referring to where growth will be. Simmons, however, nailed it with his chastisement of some in the industry whose products don’t really work. He said, “It’s great to have 50 Cent (a musician) on your phone as a ringtone, but it don’t mean shit if the phone don’t work.” Simmons told the industry to be sure their core service was in order before worrying about content. “If the phone don’t ring in both New York and LA, it’s not much good to the hip hop culture.”

Ed Zander, Motorola chairman followed Mr. Simmons, and thanked him for “making him cool” in the eyes of Zander’s twenty-something kids, merely for sharing the same stage. I worked under Zander (way under) at Sun Microsystems, and hey, Ed, we think you’re cool anyway. Zander spoke of “the device formerly known as a cell phone” and touted newer handsets such as an MP3 phone with stereo speakers, EV-DO phones with Bluetooth, UMTS 3G phones that “are the size of a regular GSM phone” (remember the fact that their existing massive UMTS phones were not hopping off the shelves at Hutchison’s stores in the UK.) Zander also raved about an enhanced handset with video and MP3, and said to think of it as you “Micro-Tivo-Video-iPod”. Hope the prices on data come down, otherwise I’ll think of it as my, “drained-my-wallet” device. Zander then went more whimsical with some futuristic scenarios of a totally connected, seamless communication and entertainment lifestyles.

Well, that’s it. CTIA CEO Steve Largent just wrapped up the keynotes 20 seconds ago, and I’m off to some meetings and demos. Mike and I will have more from the show later today.

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