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Updated: CTIA 2013: 10 things we expect

CNETAnalysis: We’re heading back to the desert sun of Las Vegas for a tech show, and no, not CES . Come May 20, we’ll join thousands of journalists, exhibitors and eager attendees in populating the Sands Expo & Convention Center for four days of seminars, press conferences, interview hunting and exhibit floor meandering for CTIA 2013, the annual industry tech show. Here’s the latest on what we’ve heard about CTIA: Verizon wants us to save the date What’s this in our inbox? A save the date invite from Verizon for May 22? “Join Verizon Wireless for a Special Announcement at CTIA,” it read. Intriguing. During MobileCon, Verizon reveled in it’s 4G LTE dominance, and we wouldn’t be surprised if the company took yet another opportunity to talk up just how many American’s its high-speed network covers. Another take is that we’ll get word on a new product, with our hearts hoping it’s Verizon’s own version of the HTC One. TechRadar will be there live, so tune in at 11 a.m. May 22 for more. Read on for our predictions of what we expect to see at this year’s show… We hit up MobileCon (hosted by CTIA) in San Diego last year, and though a name reversal may be in order, CTIA 2013′s got a more mobile and consumer focus than the Southern California show. While it’s no Mobile World Congress , CTIA is the perfect place to take the pulse of the industry following the unveiling of a multitude of new mobile devices, including the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 . We don’t expect a large number of product unveilings, though there’s always the chance someone could decide to surprise the crowd. What we do anticipate is a load of news surrounding carriers, coverage, apps, accessories, NFC, and mobile commerce, plus the opportunity to go hands on with products making their first public appearance. Oh yeah, and Ashton Kutcher will be t! here. 1. Deutsche Telekom talks T-Mobile Thomas Kiessling, chief product and innovation officer at Deutsche Telekom – T-Mobile’s parent company – is scheduled to deliver a keynote speech during CTIA 2013. Kiessling’s job description alone is reason enough to want to hear what the PhD has to say: According to his bio blurb on the CTIA website, Kiessling is in charge of Group-wide innovation strategy, product development and corporate R&D. He controls DT’s product portfolio and defines the amorphous Group’s product roadmap. Interesting enough, but we expect Kiessling to give us a little taste of T-Mo-related news during his speech. The carrier is in the midst of testing its very own 4G LTE network in the arid air of Las Vegas, and what better place to announce developments in the area than the birthplace of its ultra-high speed connectivity initiative? The company announced plans to push 4G LTE out to 100 million U.S. customers by mid-year, and May is knocking on mid-year’s door. We also expect some mention of Apple products to slip out of Kiessling’s mouth. T-Mobile is crouching on the starting line in terms of delivering the iPhone 5 to customers – the only thing we’re missing is a release date and pricing. The last bit is particularly intriguing considering T-Mobile’s plan to abolish traditional carrier contracts. Kiessling may use the CTIA stage to make an announcement, and we wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest. 2. Sprint, AT&T and U.S. Cellular spill on consumer goods Based on our MobileCon experience, carriers are more keen on talking up the enterprise side of things than the consumer side, but that’s only on surface. Once they get chatting, carriers are quite willing to spill the goods on things that matter to the Average Joe. We’ll pin Sprint, AT&T and U.S. Cellular down to talk coverage, competition and upcoming devices at CTIA 2013. In fact, Mary N. Dillon, president and CEO of U.S. Cellular, w! ill be in! the CTIA house, so we fully expect to get the low down on the smaller carrier’s plans for growth. We expect news from all of the above on how many Americans each is covering with 4G LTE, whether anyone is working on LTE Advanced, and insight into newly announced and still unrevealed devices. By showtime Samsung’s Galaxy S4 will already have been unveiled, though it could likely be awhile before we hear final word on when and for how much carriers plan on selling the device, so CTIA could be the time service providers start talking. Maybe we’ll catch wind of the iPhone 5S or iPhone 6 ? YouTube : 3. Sony elaborates on contactless ecostyem Sony, which made a splash at CES and MWC, is heading to Sin City for CTIA, but plans to show a slightly different side of its business than mobile phones specifically. At the Sony booth, there will be plenty of near-field communications (NFC)/FeliCa enabled devices and products that fit into the lattice work of what it calles the “contactless ecosystem.” FeliCa, by the way, is a contactless IC card that Sony developed for transactions that can be completed in approx. 0.1 seconds. We’ll see the company’s NFC Dynamic Tag tech and the uses it has in both healthcare and wellness through a variety of OEM partner products. We’re anxious to see what Sony has in mind for this tech. Are we talking connected home, advanced transactions at various retail locations, improved healthcare and fitness, or a everything under the contactless sun? Sony is sure to have plenty of answers at CTIA. 4. American Express, Visa vent on NFC Speaking of NFC, both Visa and American Express (through its Open proxy) will hit the Strip for some convention love, and we’re gearing up to hear how we can knock down our credit card payments. Just kidding. With the States’ preeminent credit card companies occupying a chunk of exhibit space at a mobile-focused show, we can only expect some NFC and other mobi! le commer! ce-related announcements and products to rear their head. At MobileCon we got an earful from industry leaders in the mobile commerce space on challenges facing mobile wallets, but what solutions do traditional credit card companies have to offer for a world that is increasingly mobile? How can we keep sensitive information secure while also bringing greater convenience to our lives, particularly as a growing number of mobile devices adopt NFC tech? We expect to find out all at CTIA. 5. Is your phone App-solutely secure? As more and more of our personal and professional lives gets tucked away onto phones, tablets and laptops, mobile security is an inescapable concern. So how secure would you say your phone is? Or that app you used to pay your friend back for lunch? If we’ve gotten you a bit nervous, perhaps a trip to App-solutely Security: The State of Mobile Security, will make you feel better. Or maybe it won’t. It all depends on the conclusions drawn at this half-day educational event. It kicks off at 1pm on May 20, with a cocktail reception to calm worried nerves to follow. 6. Qualcomm calms down while giving us an earful Qualcomm and Vegas seem to go together like a bachelor party and complementary minibar – not well. The chip maker had a press conference it would probably like to forget at CES 2013, and thankfully its CTIA presence will be more subdued….we think. While it’s hard to tell exactly how Qualcomm plans on presenting itself at the end of May, we do expect to hear plenty about its chips and the larger mobile landscape. The company started the conversation at MWC, speaking at length about how its chips can help solve 4G LTE fragmentation in the U.S. and Europe, and we expect much of that dialogue to carry over into CTIA. There probably won’t be an all-new chip from the Qual folks, but we hope to hear about incremental updates, future partners and more about the company’s problem-solving powers. We just hope we don’t see Big Bird running around! . 7. Ente! r the iZone Apple is ever the host, never the guest. It either puts on an event, or doesn’t show up at all. So while you’d never catch an official iPhone presence at a CTIA show, there’s always a plethora of booths hawking the latest case or accessory for the MacBook, iPhone, iPad or whatever iThing is coming down the pipes. This year, CTIA has officially acknowledged the abundance of Apple accessories in attendance by granting them their own section of the show. They’ll all be corralled in the iZone, a 17,000 square foot shrine to some of the world’s most popular mobile devices. CTIA already published a list of iZone denizens , which includes noted case maker Incase, maker of stylish phone and laptop skins DecalGirl, and screen protection mogul iShieldz, to name a few. Obviously, these manufacturers aren’t limiting themselves to just iPhone and iPad accessories. Maybe they’ll already be selling straps for the rumored Apple iWatch ? 8. The wonderful World of Tablets Tablets have quickly become a common device for everyday life. They’re a great way to read, game, browse the web or occasionally get some work done. But for as much as they already do for us, there are those that are looking ahead to see how tablets can do more, and remain secure while doing so. The World of Tablets will take place on May 22 from 11:30am – 5:30pm. Host Open Path products has already published a laundry list of subjects it plans to broach. Here are the ones we find most intriguing: Tablet strategies to increase productivity Will that mean blocking games like The Walking Dead and Infinity Blade II? We hope not. The rise of phablets Can we address renaming/eliminating that awkward term? Tablets and interactive television: The second screen revolution SmartGlass and HBO GO are a match made in heaven, unless you’d like to actually concentrate on your show. Consumer usage habits- What will they pay for? A very good question, since being free and charging a mere ninety-nin! e cents c! an mean a huge difference in downloads. A lot of companies are still trying to crack this one. 9. Keynote speaker Ashton Kutcher? CTIA’s suit and tie crowd may be surprised to learn that Ashton Kutcher, of “That 70′s Show” fame, will be featured as a keynote speaker. Kutcher made waves in the early days of Twitter, beating CNN in a race to one million Twitter followers. More recently, he’s taken on the meaty role of playing Apple founder Steve Jobs in an upcoming biopic, not to be confused with the one Aaron Sorkin is currently writing . So Kutcher is obviously a modern dude who loves tech, but what does he have to offer the CTIA crowd? Perhaps a cautionary tale about thinking before you tweet? Kutcher had an awkward moment in November of 2011 when he tweeted “How do you fire Jo Pa? #insult #noclass as a hawkeye fan I find it in poor taste,” unaware that a Penn State sex abuse scandal was breaking. Obviously, he’s apologized, and has since handed the keys to his Twitter account over to his PR team. We wonder what the man would suggest for those without PR hacks to give our tweets a once over. 10. A three-day AppWeek Love apps? Of course you do. So make a visit to the Mobile Apps Pavilion in the middle of the CTIA show floor. For three days it’ll be home to specialty app designers and their products. While that’s a few ticks short of a week, we’ll let them get away with it. They’re promising a place to sit down, kick up your feet and watch demos of new and upcoming apps on big screen televisions. These aren’t the typical apps you’ll find on Google Play or iTunes, either. This is mobile software designed for internal use with government, medical, financial, entertainment and other industries. Pay a visit and you just might find the mobile designer your business needs, or get inspired for a new way to be productive on your device of choice.


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