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CTIA Wireless – Weighed, measured and found a bit wanting…
May 14, 2012
CTIA Wireless is being billed as a bit of a snooze this year. I’ll admit, my first impression was that it was more booth babes than product announcements or innovation. The shining light for me was the conversation behind mobile payments. The idea went from being an indie movie – everyone agrees is great but its hard to find on Netflix – to an Oscar-nominated blockbuster. Visa announced Visa.me, MasterCard has their PayPass Wallet and neat gadgets like the iCache all brought the idea out in plain day light for us to use.
In my last blog I mockingly described SXSWi as “where the yupsters have come to refuel on the hipsters that drive their creativity and provide them with the sort of “champaign problems” that their newest apps and gadgets aim to address.” CTIA Wireless’ keynote speakers, although horrifically promotional at times, took the idea of solving our daily annoyances with technology to a global level by applying major trends including data, access and mobile payments.
Visa Inc. President John Partridge described how mobile payments could significantly affect rural middle eastern economies where 70 percent of people don’t have access to proper banking, and President Bill Clinton explained how texting is being used to alleviate the massive problem of counterfeit pharmaceuticals in South Africa. The proliferation of mobile is established, but there we were hearing that it’s leap frogging other technologies, such as computers, in countries where only mobile could make practical sense.
Though many of us were there for niche solutions within the wireless world – mobile backhaul, data capacity, operating systems – the conference was able to establish a future-focused dialogue on how these advances can be applied more broadly. I may agree with CNET’s Roger Cheng that we don’t need two CTIA Wireless shows a year, but I hope they keep the half of this show that I did enjoy.