MobileCon draws more people than purpose in San Jose

16 October 2013 by Steve Blum

Same booths, less booze, more schmooze than San Diego.

MobileCon’s last gasp is respectably windy, thanks to the decision to move it to San Jose. For the past few years, it’s bounced between San Francisco and San Diego as attendance, conference quality and buzz steadily spiraled downward. Following a dismal showing in San Diego last year, CTIA decided to combine MobileCon with its spring flagship show into a single event in Las Vegas next September, modestly called Super Mobility Week.

For its final fling, CTIA brought MobileCon to San Jose. The show has always struggled to find a purpose, variously emphasising apps, content and the enterprise market over the years, and settling on an IT theme at the end. You bring in a handful of marquee corporate names, offer a drink or two and hand out a lot of free exhibit floor passes, and you will draw a crowd in Silicon Valley.

The kick-off keynote session was nearly full this afternoon, a stark comparison to last year when maybe a fifth of the seats were occupied. The exhibit floor was better attended when it opened, even though it was largely the same lackluster exhibitors as last year. A morning session on location based services organised by the Wireless Communications Alliance, a local trade group, was standing room only.

But first and foremost, CTIA is a Washington-based trade association that focuses on extracting the maximum political benefits possible, particularly from Congress and the FCC. Putting on a commercial event in Silicon Valley with a few thousand attendees doesn’t do much to advance that core mission.

Nor does it attract the cutting edge entrepreneurs and start-up companies that will drive the mobile industry’s future – they were up at the GigaOm mobile conference in San Francisco today.

See you in Vegas.