CTIA: See Ya, Las Vegas!

LAS VEGAS -- CTIA Super Mobility Week 2016 -- Oh dear, there's nothing more depressing than walking into the press room on the first morning of a major wireless show and finding it virtually empty.

Yet that's what happened on Tuesday morning at the Sands Expo center. Everybody was either in San Francisco -- or in their hotel rooms -- to watch the iPhone 7 launch. It was even worse than last year.

The busiest corner of the press room while I was writing this.
The busiest corner of the press room while I was writing this.

The show floor was equally underwhelming. Once you got beyond a shell of big name booths, it was all iPhone cases and accessories on show.

In fact, someone at one of the major US mobile service providers told me they were seriously considering being a no-show this year. This would have been a shocker in the CTIA's boom years, but seemed quite logical surveying the sea of smartphone skins.

So -- thank the Great Turtle that holds up the world -- the event will be moving to San Francisco, after years being nestled in the glittery armpit that is the Las Vegas Strip. In fact, in partnership with the GSM Association (GSMA) , the event now becomes Mobile World Congress Americas on September 12-14, getting out from Apple's shadow too.

(The GSMA apparently came mob-handed this year with 30 people, far more than usually attend. They must have been so happy!)

To be fair, the CTIA was apparently locked into this week at the Sands Expo, the contracts were signed several years ago. So they couldn't escape the massive gravitational pull of the iPhone launches that fell on the same week anyway.

I've been covering the CTIA show since they were in New Orleans in the late 90s. Despite the massive growth of the US mobile business and the way it has beamed into many corners of everyday life, the show has become increasingly irrelevant.

It's a paradox, and maybe one way to change is by getting the hell of Glitter Gultch. We'll see.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

DanJones 9/14/2016 | 11:11:17 AM
Re: Word to the wise The secret formula is lots of money! Hahaha!
mendyk 9/9/2016 | 4:21:46 PM
Re: Word to the wise Mobile World Congress has taken on a life of its own, and it's successful for reasons both logical and not. That's the way it is with trade shows sometimes. GSMA -- which runs Mobile World Congress -- is now putting its hand to the CTIA event. We'll see if it has a secret formula to turn that show around.
jbtombes 9/9/2016 | 3:41:32 PM
Re: Word to the wise "...no reason the U.S. can't be home..." By that do you also mean to strike a contrast with Spain question why Barcelona must be the dominant venue? I recall earlier this year a bit more than the usual kvetching in these posts about the power that Mobile World Congress wields.
DanJones 9/9/2016 | 1:14:02 PM
Re: Word to the wise My most insane memory is from 99. The flight out after the show was AirTran or something, the company I worked for was beyond cheap, an engine blew out, I could see it from my seat. Pilot comes on the PA Hi folks, this is your captain, captain mad dog, we're having a mechanical issue, we're going back to the field. Screams ensue. Dude landed it like a champ though.
mendyk 9/9/2016 | 12:09:59 PM
Re: Word to the wise My favorite CTIA memory is attending the Bernie Ebbers keynote in 2000, on the morning that he and everyone else learned the Worldcom/Sprint merger was shot down. From that, the event gradually receded to the phone-case kiosk fest that draws dozens of semi-enthusiastic floor walkers.
DanJones 9/9/2016 | 11:51:16 AM
Re: Word to the wise Yeah, my impression is that the GSMA knows they have their hands full. It would be good to get people outside of the sticky cabal of AT&T and Verizon.
mendyk 9/9/2016 | 11:49:04 AM
Re: Word to the wise The problem with inorganic entities is that it's hard to tell when they are actually dead. Rebranding may help -- the combination of CTIA (C as in "Cellular" -- oy vey) and Super Mobility (it must have taken a giant task force six months to come up with that label) basically says, "Welcome to the 20th century." There's no reason the U.S. can't be home to a legitimate and massive mobile industry trade show. But it's hard to teach an old dog new tricks. Even harder if the dog is expired.
DanJones 9/9/2016 | 11:25:01 AM
Word to the wise You're not going to be able to casually book the week before and get a good deal when its in SF.
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