Tuesday, April 1, 2008


I realized after the "pre" show event, which took place in the Wynn Hotel on Monday night, that CTIA WIRELESS is really just as much a computer show as it is a wireless one. As I peek at badges as people walk by (come on, you all know you do it!), I notice tons of media outlets that have either the word "computer" or "laptop" in it. And really, don't wireless and PC go hand in hand? Often times, they do.

So much content and accessibility is available on mobile phones these days, from music to movies, games, e-mail, Internet browsing, etc. Much of this will either originate from a PC, or will be something you also enjoy on a PC. So it's no surprise that many of the technologies on display at the event help you better connect a mobile phone with a PC.

Take a company like mspot, for example, that offers a slew of mobile music services (the company works with both Bell and Telus in Canada). Using mspot's new subscription-based Remix application, customers will be able to take music from a PC (DRM-free, of course) and instantly transfer it to a mobile phone. The customer just needs to download software onto his PC, then he can simultaneously download tracks to his phone while they're being played back from the computer. mspot has already forged its first partnership for the service in the U.S. with AT&T. Another neat service (which I can imagine plenty of teens and "tweens" enjoying) is called Make-UR-Tones, which lets you take pretty much any song and make your own cut of it to become a 30-second ringtune for your phone. mspot has partnered with EMI Music, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, INgrooves, and IRIS to offer a selection of over 250,000 songs. Talk about personalization!

Meanwhile, on the more business-oriented side of things, French company Gemalto, which focuses on digital security, is offering a way for traditional wireless carriers to compete with the burgeoning VoIP category. More and more consumers are moving toward VoIP services like Vonage and Skype for making phone calls when they're out of town, mainly because it's cheaper. Gemalto offers a neat doo-hickey called the Upteq Smart Dongle that contains the customer's mobile phone information, and plugs into a PCs USB port. Once inserted, incoming phone calls will ring on both the handset and via a virtual dialpad on the customer's PC screen. He can then choose to pick up the call using the computer rather than the mobile phone, and thus circumvent a hefty long distance bill. Since Gemalto is a security company at heart, you can bet your bottom dollar that password authentication is required to actually use the dongle, since it contains all of the owner's mobile phone information. Gemalto already offers the Upteq Smart Dongle through Orange Business Services, the leading mobile network operator in France. It really is an ingenuis idea, and the perfect answer to the question: how can one compete effectively against VoIP services. Now, if someone could find a way that the traditional landline phone could better compete against VoIP...but that's another issue altogether...

When you really think about it (and I mentioned this in the previous post without even realizing it), mobile phones really are just like mini computers. In that respect, I'm preparing myself to see a whole different breed of propeller heads on the CTIA WIRELESS show floor.

As an aside, the Wynn Hotel truly is the classiest looking hotel in all of Las Vegas. I can't help but feel like I'm in an old Vegas movie when I walk in there!

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