Las Vegas mobile show struggles for the spotlight

by Steve Blum • , , ,

The rebooted CTIA mobile telecoms show is ramping up in Las Vegas today. It officially opens tomorrow, but pre-show activities and associated meetings – particularly the Competitive Carriers Association – are already underway.

This new version of the show is, among other things, a combination of the big, technology and business-focused CTIA springtime convention and its fall MobileCon conference, which was more about applications and services. But the market is crowded and both shows were faced with declining attendance. The Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona in February has become the go-to event in the mobile telecoms world, and much of the remaining oxygen has been inhaled by CES, which puts an ever increasing focus on mobile and wireless products and technology.

It also doesn’t help that the big players rely on their own extravaganzas to introduce products and roll out fall lines ahead of the holiday selling season. In fact, Apple’s much anticipated launch of the iPhone 6 and who knows what else will happen right as CTIA’s opening keynotes are underway. Even people at the show will be watching what happens in Cupertino.

Except a few of us. FCC chairman Tom Wheeler is one of the featured speakers on opening morning, and I want to hear what he has to say. He used to be the top guy at CTIA – one of his big lobbying jobs before being picked as head regulator of the industry. It’ll be interesting to see if he projects the same populist persona he did at a Washington event last week, or if he relaxes into his lobbyist-in-chief mode, like earlier this year at CES.