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3/28/2007
00:02 AM
Stephen Wellman
Stephen Wellman
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CTIA Party Roundup: Can Motorola Make Mobile Business Work? Oh, And The iPhone Too.

It's been a busy CTIA show so far. While there has been lots of activity, I haven't seen much in terms of real breaking news or highlights. So far, the appearance of the iPhone -- only the device's second public showing since January -- has been this CTIA's biggest news item. But If you want the real news at CTIA, you have to get off the show floor, walk out of the press room, and head over to some part

It's been a busy CTIA show so far. While there has been lots of activity, I haven't seen much in terms of real breaking news or highlights. So far, the appearance of the iPhone -- only the device's second public showing since January -- has been this CTIA's biggest news item.

But If you want the real news at CTIA, you have to get off the show floor, walk out of the press room, and head over to some parties. And since I am a professional, that's exactly what I did. Let's take a look at this year's CTIA events and all the real industry news.Last night I arrived in Orlando late and caught the tail end of Mobile Focus. I did see one cool device at the event, the new Samsung UpStage from Sprint. The UpStage has a dual-face -- flip it on one side and it's a mobile music player and on the other side it's a phone. The UpStage looks great and Sprint is pushing the phone as a mobile iTunes killer. Sprint even plans to offer $0.99 over the air full-track downloads, meaning users will be able to download songs directly to their handsets while on the go.

After checking out the UpStage I went looking for gossip. I did come across one tidbit concerning Nokia. It seems there is word on the street that Nokia doesn't know what to do when it comes to the U.S. mobile enterprise market. While Nokia has the E62 and the Intellisync mobile e-mail platform, insiders claim there is a sense that the company is frustrated with the U.S. market and doesn't know what to do to beat the BlackBerry.

If I have a word of advice for Nokia, it goes equally for everyone else in the mobile enterprise market looking to knock off RIM. RIM focused on making the BlackBerry a seamless experience -- not a technology, not a platform, not a piece of middleware -- but an experience. All users know what BlackBerry does -- it delivers mobile e-mail and it does what it says. If Nokia wants to fight that, it needs to focus its efforts on creating a seamless a mobile e-mail experience and not on pushing a myriad of devices and platforms. IT managers and users want simple technology solutions that do what they say they will and are easy to use. Period. Do that, and you can beat the BlackBerry.

After Mobile Focus, I went back to my hotel room to deal with my lost luggage (it's still yet to be delivered) and get some rest.

Tonight I made it to ShowStoppers after they closed the press room. At ShowStoppers, I had a reprise of my Nokia conversation from Monday night, but this time the topic shifted to Motorola. If any company has all the pieces to win the U.S. mobile business market, it's Motorola. After the company's acquisitions of Symbol Technologies and Good Technology, the company has both market reach in the verticals through Symbol's business and a comprehensive mobile e-mail and application platform in Good Technology designed to capture the mobile horizontal office. Combined with Motorola's share of the global handset business, there is no reason this company shouldn't be the U.S. mobile business market leader. If Motorola can pull off a deal for Palm, then there chances of winning this space are even greater.

Motorola may be its own worse enemy here. Some insiders claim that Motorola hasn't figured out how to leverage its acquisition of Good. This reminds me of Motorola's deal for Metrowerks. While the company used Metrowerk's technology in its chip business -- now through Freescale -- Motorola never seemed to make this acquisition work as well as it should have.

I think Motorola's real issue here is similar to Nokia's -- it's a matter of packaging. Motorola is trying to see this technology as technology and it's not doing as good a job of packaging it as an experience. I think Motorola Symbol will continue to do a good job at going after the verticals. Maybe Good needs to take a page out of Motorola Symbol's playbook. Symbol was always good at offering solutions that were easy to understand and targeted at their customers' problems. When it comes to the mobile office, Motorola needs to better identify the problems that IT managers face and focus on buiding an experience that solves those problems, not in debating the merits of its solution or over-communicating the technology.

After ShowStoppers, I dropped by the Calysto Communications happy hour. On my way out of that reception I ran into some people from Kyocera Wireless. They gave me a sneak peak at the new E5000, a slim EV-DO 3G phone with a unique "S" hinge design. The E5000 is one of the coolest clamshell phones I have seen in years. Its design is fresh and it does for clamshells what the BlackBerry Pearl did for the candybar -- it wipes out the old thinking and brings in a new perspective. I can't wait to see more of the E5000.

Next on the party stop was the Qpass reception. I grabbed a few crab cakes, didn't catch much in the way of gossip, and hopped a cab for the biggest ticket of the night: Motricity and MTV Mobile.

The Motricity, MTV party was fun, but I faded fast. I had to head off to my hotel before the star of the evening -- Grandmaster Flash -- hit the turntables.

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