CTIA’s Super Mobility Week: Should You Care?

Peter Jarich
Peter Jarich

Summary Bullets:

  • As CTIA’s springtime trade showbile World Congress, the event was moved to September in an attempt to grow (maintain?) its relevance.
  • Competing events (e.g., IFA, Apple’s device announcements, Intel Developer Forum) suggest that increased relevance isn’t assured.
  • Consumer news aside, there are still plenty of reasons why C got marginalized by MoTIA’s Super Mobility Week matters.

The other day, I got a survey asking about my views on what matters in mobility. It was sent from “The CTIA Super Mobility Week 2014 Team.” When I realized that, I had to ask myself: “Does Super Mobility Week 2014 really matter?”

A little background for anyone who doesn’t know the Super Mobility Week story. For many years, CTIA (a U.S.-based wireless trade organization, billing itself as “The Wireless Association”) held an annual convention in the spring, adding in an enterprise-focused event in the fall back in 2012. As the GSMA’s Mobile World Congress grew in size and stature, CTIA found itself competing for exhibitors, attendees and attention. In general, it was losing this competition. Putting some space between itself and Mobile World Congress seemed like a logical solution. For 2014, then, it introduced “Super Mobility Week” – a combination of its annual trade show co-located with a number of other wireless events, including the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) annual conference, 4G World, Tower and Small Cell Summit…and a host of smaller programs. Taking place in Las Vegas from September 9th through 11th, the hope is that all of this will produce a critical mass of interest that returns CTIA’s annual event to its former glory.

Unfortunately, a few things stand in its way.

First, nobody is certain that CTIA can pull it off. Vendors such as Cisco and Qualcomm aren’t exhibiting. A wireless event where Qualcomm isn’t exhibiting – what does that say? Second, even though Mobile World Congress is months away, Super Mobility Week faces fierce competition. Berlin’s IFA (billing itself as “the world’s leading trade show for consumer electronics and home appliances”) overlaps. The Intel Developer Forum runs from the 9th to the 11th in San Francisco. Also in San Francisco on the 9th? New device announcements from Apple that, as Re/code puts it, will “suck all the air out of the tech news cycle.”

That’s right, it’s going to be a busy few days. On our end, Current Analysis will have no fewer than seven analysts there covering everything networks, devices, consumer services and enterprise mobility…while running a panel on self-care strategies for the CCA. And even though anyone else seriously thinking about attending should already have their hotel reservations (and maybe even a few meetings scheduled), there’s no shortage of people questioning whether or not anything important will come out of the show. Will there be any significant news (e.g., product announcements, service announcements, industry insights) coming out of the show? Will it be worth paying attention?

While I’ll be headed to Vegas, I wouldn’t take out any bets on the show’s attendance or the number of press releases it generates. However, I can tell you why we’ll be paying attention to it here at Current Analysis.

– IFA and Apple will probably produce the biggest consumer-focused news, but if you’re interested in more than phones and tablets, Vegas is where you’ll want to be. Most of the big network vendors will be exhibiting. Six months off of Mobile World Congress, you can expect some sort of news from them.

– It’s Vegas. Come early and go to the Las Vegas Food and Wine Festival. Stay late and go to the Interbike, the cycling industry’s trade event.

– The addition of CCA to the roster of partner events is critical. Pulling together smaller operators alongside the big ones presents an opportunity to get a sense of how operators of all shapes and sizes are thinking about the important topics in mobility.

– Whether or not a diverse set of partnered events will help Super Mobility Week attain critical mass, CTIA has done a great job at making it a showcase for the broader mobile ecosystem. Just look to the keynotes. Alongside execs from Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson, you’ll have the head of the FCC, the presidents of AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless, and execs from ESPN, Hulu, Twitter, Tesla and Zappos. Though they won’t have booths, you’ll see the CEOs from Qualcomm and Microsoft.

It’s these last two pieces that I think are the most important. Will the week’s biggest consumer news be generated out of Las Vegas during Super Mobility Week? No. Will it be a good place to get a handle on the totality of the mobile ecosystem – where it is today and where it is going? We think so.

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