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Are The Big Wireless Trade Shows Now Irrelevant?

It has been over a week since I was down in Orlando for CTIA Wireless 2007 and it is time to take a look back at the show that was. Like many of my colleagues in the wireless press corps, I was more than a little disappointed by this year's CTIA. Frankly, I was also a little disappointed by
April 05, 2007
It has been over a week since I was down in Orlando for CTIA Wireless 2007 and it is time to take a look back at the show that was. Like many of my colleagues in the wireless press corps, I was more than a little disappointed by this year's CTIA. Frankly, I was also a little disappointed by this year's 3GSM. And even reaching out for the broader shows, like CES and CeBit, there wasn't that much news either. For those of us who have been covering this industry for a while, there was little in terms of big news at this year's major shows. What's going on here?What I think is even more interesting than a set of relatively tame trade shows is that, so far this year, the biggest industry news didn't come out of these shows.

Let's not beat around the bush, the iPhone is the wireless story of 2007, at least for the first half of the of year (we'll see how it performs once it goes live). Steve Jobs launched this device at a small niche show, MacWorld, and not at CES, 3GSM, CeBit, or CTIA.

And the iPhone wasn't alone. Just last week Microsoft announced its new mobile user interface initiative, called ZenZui. But Microsoft didn't throw a big press event at CTIA nor did they really use the show to capitalize on this news.

What does all this mean? I think it means that the bigger wireless shows may be growing more irrelevant. As wireless goes more mainstream, it looks like the industry is splintering. Those interested in mobile business are going to mobile business focused shows, like the Mobile Business Expo, Gartner Wireless & Mobile Summit, or Frost & Sullivan Mobile & Wireless. Those interested in application development are headed off to developer gatherings, and those into the mobile Web are going to shows like Web 2.0, the AlwaysOn summits, or Mobile Web Americas.

Does this mean that shows like CTIA or 3GSM are destined to be Comdexed? I doubt it. I think these shows have a lot of value now and will continue to have a lot of value in the future. But their value may be more in terms of places for business development than as launch pads for new stories or announcements.

What do you think? Are the big wireless trade shows and shows like CES doomed to be Comdexed? Or will these shows just evolve into annual business gatherings, like shows for the automotive industry?

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