CTIA Roundup

As always, CTIA was both exciting and insane. Vegas is an interesting setting for any event.

Some observations…. Mobile LBS continues its US growth trajectory, linked as always to the pace of the Sprint and Verizon handset cycles. Personal navigation was very well represented, as evidenced by the wide array of device and smart-phone products at the TeleAtlas and Navteq booths. Many in the nav industry sees a shake out coming as there are just too many products in the market. It will be interesting to see how things consolidate, whether it’s under carrier brands (VZ Navigator), online brands (MapQuest Navigator), or the smaller brands of dedicated navigation companies (Garmin, TomTom, TeleNav, Destinator, Smart2Go, Route66, etc). I’d vote for online brands, but I’m biased.

Some nice apps but nothing radically new at the Navteq LBS challenge. Nice to see Skyhook Loki take a deserved prize. Some cool LBS game ideas. Brad Blumberg and team at SmarterAgent continues rollout of an interesting product. The highlight was Navteq’s new Urban Explorer product on which I got an overview from Blair Swedeen. Nice move for Navteq to move beyond the nav market with rare geographic content such as neighborhood boundaries and mass transit stops.

Received more insights on ‘mobile social LBS’ through conversations with a few carrier people, app builders, and Russell Buckley (nice to finally meet the author of the blog). Not yet sure how it fits into mobile LBS, if at all, but the sms.ac Pod Developer content tools and premium SMS revenue-share model is an interesting offering. Outside the US, DoCoMo is releasing what I believe is their first branded consumer GPS app, a child finder. And an interesting statement from KDDI’s president during the CTIA Wednesday press conference: “Okinaka said the Japanese carrier has had mixed results with LBS applications. Subscribers have not shown much interest in attaching location details to cell phone photos, but he said they are interested in receiving turn-by-turn directions in their cars and in using location to track their children.” South Korea has a somewhat different take on that story, of course.

And on a separate note…

A delayed and packed flight from Las Vegas had a silver lining in that it allowed me to read one of the more inspiring books I’ve recently read, The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs.

He looks at extreme poverty in the world (people subsisting on less than $1/day), and argues that most of this population is trapped in a ‘cycle of poverty’ largely caused by geographical conditions (landlocked countries, arid soils) and disease (malaria, AIDS). People in extreme poverty can’t invest in their future and so are doomed to remain in this state unless they get an external infusion of aid that is targeted at these precise problems.

Paying for this aid is fairly trivial for developed countries. As an example, in 2000 the top 400 US taxpayers had a combined income of $69 billion dollars. This equals the combined income of Botswana, Senegal, Uganda, and Nigeria (including oil revenues!). Sachs estimates that an infusion of funds equal to .7% of GDP of developed nations for a decade or two would eliminate extreme poverty in the world.

It’s hard not to contrast that with the fountains of the Bellagio.

1st Boston Mobile Monday

Yesterday’s first Mobile Monday event turned out a bigger crowd than expected (at least 60). Nice to see the turnout despite so many folks being on their way to CTIA.

Interesting presentations by James Talbott on Flash Lite (very interactive interfaces, makes it easy to understand why Japanese cell phone users are comfortable doing mobile ecommerce transactions) and Franklin Davis on the Nokia S60 browser (as a Mac user, it was pretty cool to see they’re using the Safari engine). Can’t wait to see this stuff hit the US, though of course it will take both carrier cooperation and handset replacement cycles to reach the mass market.

Next event will be May 1st @7pm. More info will be up on the blog shortly.