FiREGlobal CTO Design Challenge PPT October 27, 2009

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AdAge article – Droid vs. iPhone

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Talked to AdAge about Droid expectations

Could the Droid Be the Device That Finally Dethrones the iPhone?


Experts: Verizon Won’t Take Bite Out of Apple, Despite Glowing Reviews

by Rita Chang
Published: October 26, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO ( — With Apple posting record profits last week, thanks in large part to brisk sales of its iPhone, it may seem downright crazy to mount a smartphone challenge at all, let alone one that takes direct aim at the iPhone. But that’s just what Verizon, Google and Motorola are doing.

Lowell McAdam, president-CEO of Verizon Wireless, holds up the Droid at a joint announcement with Google earlier this month.


Lowell McAdam, president-CEO of Verizon Wireless, holds up the Droid at a joint announcement with Google earlier this month.

With a teaser ad from Verizon zeroing in on the device’s perceived shortcomings, such as its lack of a physical keyboard, the triumvirate is beginning a big push for Droid, the flagship device of the Google-backed Android operating system. So far, industry observers are unmoved by the buzz and give the Droid long odds in its bid to become the next ubiquitous handset.

So far, Verizon and its partners have kept a tight lid on Droid, but the few early reviews have been effusive, with the influential gadget blog Boy Genius Report calling Droid "the most impressive phone we’ve used since the iPhone. It’s positively amazing." TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington, who famously chucked the iPhone because of AT&T’s spotty network service, also gushed: "According to people who’ve handled the device, the Droid is the most sophisticated mobile device to hit the market to date from a hardware standpoint."

The praise notwithstanding, analysts say it’s doubtful that Droid can dethrone the iPhone — even if the handset will live on what is widely perceived as the best wireless network in the country. The Blackberry Storm, and most recently the Palm Pre, both of which have been held up as credible iPhone challengers, came and went without incident to Apple, which just reported its most profitable quarter after selling the most iPhones in that time.

"There is a graveyard littered with iPhone wannabees, so the bar is pretty high for any new phone, no matter how good it might be," said wireless analyst Chetan Sharma.

Beating the network
For Verizon, a lot is at stake. The No. 1 U.S. wireless carrier needs something of a super-marquee phone to counter Apple’s iPhone, which has put millions of consumers on the network of its exclusive carrier, AT&T, many of whom are left to regularly carp about dropped calls. Thanks largely to the iPhone, AT&T last quarter added more contract customers than Verizon for the first time in recent history.

Others say Droid will post solid sales, but don’t expect a blockbuster.

"It’s going to be successful within the Verizon network, but it’s not going to come at the expense of the iPhone," said Matt Thornton, an analyst at Avian Securities. "This device will slow subscriber attrition, but it’s difficult to woo subscribers to another network just for the phone. The iPhone has been the only one that’s able to do that."

And once those customers settle on the Apple handset, it’ll be tough to tempt them to switch: The iPhone was the top-ranked brand on measures of user loyalty, according to a survey by Brand Keys that looked at 63 product categories. Moreover, for the first time in 12 years since the survey’s inception, three cellphone brands made the top 10 list of brands garnering the most loyalty — Samsung came in after the iPhone, and BlackBerry was ranked fourth.

"This says that cellphone brands are able to meet consumer expectations more than ever before," said Brand Keys President Robert Passikoff, who also noted that consumer expectations towards smartphones are also higher than ever. This means it’s all the more critical for Droid to live up to the hype, which is partly being manufactured by Verizon. The carrier recently launched a teaser ad attacking the iPhone for all the things it can’t do, but Droid can, leading some to call the strategy risky.

Not about features
"If Droid is anything less than stellar, then it looks like you’ll have failed at what you’ve set out to do," said Michael Gartenberg, VP-strategy and analysis at tech research firm Interpret. "It’s not a great idea to take a strong competitor head on."

As the Droid teaser ad ticks off a list of features that the phone supports, it may also be missing what consumers are really after, which is the overall user experience, and Apple has cornered the market on that. "You are not going to beat Apple on features, because iPhone buyers aren’t sitting there with a features checklist," said Avi Greengart, analyst at Current Analysis. "It’s not what features the iPhone has, but how they are implemented."

What Droid could do, with Verizon’s backing, however, is be an incremental force to stem the iPhone tide by accelerating Android’s momentum. So far, Android phones have only been available at T-Mobile, the smallest of the top four U.S. carriers, though about half a dozen Android devices are expected to be unveiled stateside by year-end. By 2012, Android is expected to have a 15% worldwide share, just eclipsing the iPhone’s 14%, putting it behind top smartphone operating system Symbian, according to Gartner. With a slew of phone makers hanging their smartphone offerings on Android, analysts also expect more developers to write for the operating system, whose paltry 10,000 apps today are dwarfed by the iPhone’s more than 85,000.

"Verizon’s backing … will bring Android to the forefront and give it more attention," said Tim Bajarin, principal analyst with Creative Strategies. However, don’t expect Apple to take the heated competition lying down. "I fully expect Apple to raise the bar with a new iPhone and new features," Mr. Bajarin said.

Mobile Breakfast Series shaping up nicely

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Our next Mobile Breakfast Series is coming up on Dec 4th 8:30-10am PT in downtown Seattle.

Have gotten great feedback from the first event

"I found the Mobile Breakfast Series to be informative and great for networking. We had 3 very substantial follow-up meetings from connections made at the event."

– Mike McSherry, CEO, Swype

"The Mobile Breakfast Series is a unique Seattle event – all the right people sitting down together to tackle the hardest problems in our industry"

– Dan Shapiro, CEO, Ontela

Hope you can join. Register at Bring friends and family. Help Spread the Word.

The topic of our next event is “The Impact and Evolution of Mobile Broadband” and the illustrious speakers are:

Om Malik, Founder, GigaOM (Moderator)

Scott Richardson, Strategic Advisor, Clearwire

Most recently Scott served as SVP and Chief Strategy Officer at Clearwire. As senior vice president – chief strategy officer, Scott Richardson was responsible for driving Clearwire’s mobile wireless broadband efforts, WiMAX strategy, technology investment and field trials. During two decades in the wireless and chip industries, Mr. Richardson has worked with key industry leaders to define and shape the WiMAX standards with the goal of delivering next-generation wireless broadband networks around the world. Prior to joining Clearwire in January 2007, Richardson spent 20 years at Intel in a variety of key management roles, most recently leading Intel’s broadband wireless business. Previously he served as vice president of Intel’s Mobility Group and general manager of the company’s Service Provider Business Group, where he was responsible for creating the IEEE 802.16 standard and delivering the company’s silicon products for WiMAX Certified wireless equipment and access devices. Earlier, Richardson served as general manager of Intel’s OEM communication systems business serving the networking and communications market and also led software efforts within Intel’s Enterprise Server Group.

Charlie Martin, Wireless CTO, Huawei Technologies

Charlie Martin is the Wireless Chief Technology Officer for Huawei Technologies (North America). Martin has more than 20 years of experience in wireless communications and has spent the past nine years in product management, business development and technology development. Previously, Martin served as Nortel’s Director of WiMAX Network and Systems Product Line Management, and, prior to that, as Director of Wireless Technology and Product Strategy for the company. Before joining Nortel, Martin held positions at two service provider companies. At GTE Business Data Products, Martin was a member of a five person product management team responsible for rolling out a nationwide ADSL service in more than 330 central offices in 1998. At Sprint PCS, Martin served as the Manager of RF Design for the Dallas/Fort Worth Engineering and Operations team, which rolled out CDMA service in 1996. Martin earned a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from the University of Maryland.

Ken Denman, CEO, Openwave

Ken Denman is chief executive officer for Openwave Systems (NASDAQ: OPWV) where he is focused on executing Openwave’s corporate strategy and growing the company’s global market share with innovative software infrastructure products and services for mobile and broadband operators. Ken’s career spans more than 20 years in the global telecommunications and IT industries. Before Openwave, Ken served as chairman and CEO of iPass, a world leader in platform-based enterprise mobility services where he guided the company in leveraging the explosion in new broadband and wireless access technologies to make them real and globally available to any enterprise or service provider. Under Mr. Denman’s leadership, iPass grew its revenue by 200 percent and went public in 2003. 
Before joining iPass, Ken was the founder, president and CEO of AuraServ Communications, a managed service provider of broadband voice and data applications. Earlier, he served as senior vice president at MediaOne’s National Markets Group (now part of Comcast) where his teams exceeded new subscriber growth targets and dramatically reduced customer churn. He also served as chief operating officer of MediaOne’s International Wireless Group, leading international joint ventures including what would become the leading wireless providers in Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.  Ken also serves on the board of ShoreTel, Inc., (NASDAQ: SHOR), a leading provider of Pure IP unified communications systems headquartered in Sunnyvale, California. Ken holds an MBA from the University of Washington and a BS in accounting from Central Washington University.

Pankaj Kedia, Director, Global Ecosystem Programs, Mobility Products, Intel Corporation

Pankaj Kedia is the director of Global Ecosystem Programs for Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) and Smartphones at Intel Corporation. He is responsible for working with the industry to enable complete hardware and software solutions for MIDs/Smartphones, ensuring the availability of rich, intuitive applications, content, and services, and taking the complete solution to market. Over the last 2 years, Pankaj has led Intel’s charge in establishing the Mobile Internet Device category in the industry and launching the Intel® Atomâ„¢ processor which is specifically designed for this category. Pankaj joined Intel in 1996 and has held a range of executive advisory, marketing, planning, and business development roles across the company. Prior to Intel, he was in the management consulting industry for 5 years leading projects in strategy, management, and information technology. Pankaj holds an MBA from Wharton, an MS from the University of Michigan, and a BS from the Indian Institute of Technology. Pankaj is a frequent industry speaker in the mobile, Internet, and wireless sectors and has been quoted in major publications including Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Fast Company, San Jose Mercury News, Wired and CNET.

Defining mobile broadband

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This piece appeared in RCR Wireless earlier this month.

The Vision

Mobile broadband is the network connectivity environment, where networks of different shapes and sizes collaborate to provide users unfettered access to the information they seek, the content they want to engage in, connect people in new and exciting ways, where time and distance are all but collapsed to provide access to anyone and anything, faster than the speed of thought. At least, that’s the vision.

In 1991, the late Mark Weiser of XEROX PARC, considered the father of ubiquitous computing, dreamed of an always on, always connected world in which humans and computers are seamlessly united. In 2002, my friend and coauthor Dr. Yasuhisa Nakamura, then CTO of NTT DoCoMo wrote in our book that his vision of mobile broadband is when wireless infrastructure becomes indistinguishable from air – omnipresent. It is just there without us consciously searching for it. Here we are in 2009, where the FCC is engaged in the noble task of defining broadband and various players are quibbling over a few kbps speed requirements. But as the national debate on broadband reaches a fervent pitch, one has to come back to the task at hand and figure out what defines "mobile broadband."

Defining Broadband

FCC’s current definition of broadband is stated as "The term broadband commonly refers to high-speed Internet access that is always on and faster than the traditional dial-up access." Faster than dial-up doesn’t really conjure up an image of a 21st century ready infrastructure, so, how do we go about defining mobile broadband, what benchmarks are meaningful, and most importantly, what factors would yield sustainable competitive advantage to service providers.

First of all, we shouldn’t mix wireless and wireline for some time. The inherent cost structures, economics, and physics of the two mediums are quite different. By expecting wireless to deliver wireline performance and pricing, we are setting ourselves for disappointment.

Real speeds, coverage, and spectrum

The speed of the network has long been the main benchmark for mobile broadband, esp. the peak rates possible using a given technology. For e.g. in the GSM family of technologies, GPRS roughly equates to 114 Kbps, EDGE to 474 Kbps, UMTS to 2 Mbps (stationary), HSPA to 7.2 Mbps, HSPA+ to 28 Mbps, and LTE to 100 Mbps (of course, there are differences in upload, download, peak, off-peak, min, max, etc.). However, the real-life network speeds experienced by average consumers are typically 40-60% of the peak rates. During peak traffic times, the speed drops even further.
We should be looking at the bandwidth requirements from the eyes of the consumer. Someone living in Bellingham, Wash., only cares about the coverage and the average bandwidth available to them at any given moment. What ultrafast networks are deployed in Washington, D.C., is of little interest to them. So, we need to measure coverage and consistency in performance across the nation. Also, one needs to keep the spectrum scorecard for we can deliver 100 Mbps but the spectrum required under current set of technologies is just inadequate. Hence, the benchmarks for mobile broadband need to be closely correlated to the national spectrum dedicated to mobile.
As a first step, we need to take the discussion away from peak rates to average rates and measure the average throughput at any given time across various markets. Any issues with the backhaul network will also be reflected in these numbers and thus will help us understand the state of the mobile infrastructure at a more granular level. Japan, Korea, and Australia are investing heavily in upgrading their national mobile infrastructure to stay ahead of demand. Progress in these countries will clearly serve as a guiding principle for the U.S. and other economies.

As we move into the 3.5G and 4G mobile network arena, latency (along with jitter) will start to become an important benchmark as well. Reduction in the time to fetch content enables better user experiences. An all-IP network introduces a flatter network architecture which in turn reduces the latency in the network. Better user experience paves the way for more usage and higher content consumption which in theory yields informed citizens and higher productivity.

We should also keep track of the average bandwidth being consumed by users on a monthly basis. By keeping an accurate measurement, the ecosystem can plan better. Some other regulatory agencies like the Hong Kong Telecommunications Authority regularly publish mobile data usage. While the task is much bigger in the U.S., some measure of the pace of growth is necessary for the ecosystem to appreciate the risks and the opportunities.

Next, we need to keep track of the average price paid by consumers for mobile broadband and mobile data consumption over time and the choice of providers available to consumers on a national basis. The above also needs to be measured from a demographics point of view by looking at the numbers for a wide variety of user populations. Additionally, these measurements need to evolve over time as our understanding of what’s important to the consumer changes.

Intelligent Platforms

Finally, while the debate is focused on how to deal with the data growth, little attention is being paid to how to use the terabytes of data that is being generated. In other words, there is a lot of focus on data creation but little on intelligence extraction. Most service providers are consumed by network upgrades, move from WCDMA to HSPA+ to LTE and so on and so forth but little investment is going into understanding the consumer and their mobile data behavior – how are they consuming data? what are their preferences and unmet needs? how do you tailor content, value added services, and pricing plans at a subscriber level? how to leverage mobile as a media channel? etc.
Don’t get me wrong, carriers absolutely need to build a robust network that can stay ahead of the consumer demand but they also need to continue to innovate on several key fronts. By focusing too much on network build out and too little on building intelligent platforms that can harness the power of these networks, many service providers are leaving the door open for others to extract more value out of these network upgrades. Sustainable competitive advantage can only be built by understanding the consumer better, mobile affords that opportunity. Players who are focusing on measuring intelligence of their networks are the ones who will be able to withstand emerging business threats better than those who are investing little in building out the platform. And, intelligence is something the FCC can’t regulate but consumers will see the difference.

Chetan Sharma is President of Chetan Sharma Consulting and is one of the leading strategists in the mobile industry. He has served as an advisor to several Fortune100 companies in the wireless space and is probably the only industry strategist who has advised each of the top 6 global mobile data operators. His client list includes NTT DoCoMo, China Mobile, AT&T, Sprint Nextel, KDDI, Reliance, KTF, Sony, Juniper, Alcatel-Lucent, Qualcomm, Comcast, HP, and Disney. Chetan is also a leading authority and IP expert in the wireless industry, testifying in cases such as ITC – Qualcomm vs. Broadcom as well as the author of 5 best-selling books on wireless. He is interviewed frequently by global media and his research is widely quoted in respected publications such as NY Times, WIRED, Business Week, Fortune, WSJ, Reuters, AdAge, and MIT Technology Review. Chetan serves on the advisory committees of several startups.

Open Mobile Summit Next Week October 26, 2009

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Am looking forward to the Open Mobile Summit next week in San Francisco. Will be moderating two panels, one each day. The overall lineup of speakers is stellar and it should generate some really good discussion. If you plan on going but haven’t done the registration yet, let me know and I can pass on the discount.


Panel: What open means to apps providers

This panel takes the application / service developer perspective and asks:


Panel: Apps in the cloud


In case you missed … October 13, 2009

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Stories from Sept ..

Fiercewireless – Mobile advertising measurements still lack standardization

GigaOM – US leading the Global Mobile Data Boom

GigaOM – Mobile Advertising Metrics: What matters most?

Moconews – Full speed ahead as US carriers invest billions, is it too much?

AdAge – Mobile Video Gets Ready for the Masses

MIT Technology Review – The New Faces of Android

NewTeeVee – With MediaFLO disappointing, Qualcomm wants to become a Mobile CDN

GigaOM – Don’t Neglect the Network, The Ultraband Panel

NY Times – Customers angered as iPhones overload AT&T

RCR Wireless – The RCR Ecosystem – An Overview

IT Business Edge – The Death of the Early Adopter

GigaOM – New Metrics for Mobile Ad Networks

GigaOM – How the iPhone is driving a wireless bandwidth boom

Carnival of the Mobilists #195 October 12, 2009

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Welcome to the 195th edition of Carnival of the Mobilists. It has been quite a start to the final quarter of the year. With CTIA just wrapping up last week, there was plenty of action. Folks are still recovering from the travel so posts have been light but an eclectic mix of viewpoints makes up this week’s carnival.

Andrew Grill of London Calling delves into the world of mobile and social networking. There is significant traffic due to social networking. Who monetizes the best is the question.

Enrique has a compelling presentations on the concepts and technologies behind real-time demand data, a topic near and dear to me. Thanks for sharing.

Dennis Bournique of WAP Review does a review of the Bolt Browser.

Jose from Mobile Strategy writes about mobile application development.

There has been a lot of discussion about mobile advertising. An industry veteran, Mark Jaffe opines in his series – Ten Reasons Why Mobile Advertising Has Not Reached Its Potential.

Belen Barros of iQblog has a post on Mobile reverse innovation inviting you to expand your thinking beyond the western markets.

Mobile VoIP made a lot of news last week. Tsahi Levent-Levi of VoIP Survivor and a frequent contributor writes 5 reasons why mobile VoIP =#FAIL

My own contribution to the carnival is in the form of our CTIA Wireless IT and Entertainment 2009 Roundup

Q4 is shaping up to be a great quarter for developments that will impact the mobile industry. Be sure to read the Carnival each week as the mobilists track the progress. Next week, the carnival moves to A Consuming Experience.

Thanks and happy surfing.

CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment Roundup 2009

Posted by chetan in : 3G,4G,AORTA,ARPU,BRIC,Carriers,CTIA,Devices,Enterprise Mobility,European Wireless Market,Federal,Indian Wireless Market,Japan Wireless Market,Location Based Services,M&A,Microsoft Mobile,Middleware,Mobile Advertising,Mobile Applications,Mobile Content,Mobile Ecosystem,Mobile Entertainment,Mobile Gaming,Mobile Search,Mobile TV,Mobile Usability,Mobile Users,MVNO,Networks,Smart Phones,Speaking Engagements,Unified Messaging,US Wireless Market,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , 3 comments

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CTIA San Diego Roundup

San Diego is a casual town so this year’s CTIA fit nicely with an equally casual show, that felt more like a networking party sprinkled with some striking keynotes and engaging sessions. However, the biggest tremors were felt a day before the event started with Verizon getting in bed with Google and AT&T embracing VoIP with open arms. FCC’s curiosity into the wireless world has yielded more action in 3 months than many years combined before. I was drawn more to the policy debate and the implications to the wireless industry in the US and to the rest of the world. There was intense discussion on appstores and their place in the future, mobile advertising and its maturity, enhancing retail experience, accelerated growth in mobile health in recent times, and of course the tremendous growth in the US wireless data market but if you already knew that. This note summarizes the observations and opinions from the event, discussions, and briefings.

A friend of mine at the FCC invited me to the FCC Broadband Field Hearing occurring simultaneously with the CTIA at the University of San Diego. I am glad I went. The first panel was on the App Ecosystem with a diverse panel of industry verticals – rural, public safety, health care, environment, air quality, health care complimented by the discussion of the iPhone and its impact on the mobile industry. Chairman Julius Genachowski is to iPhone what President Obama was to Blackberry. He described his love for the apps with tender affection.

I am finding that the whole process of broadband planning to be quite interesting. The proceedings have been open and participatory, interest and feedback has been intense, and the principles have been clearly stated. This helped with a broader question that my CTO team for the FiREGlobal panel (to be held on Oct 15th) is addressing. We are tasked with a unique challenge of coming up with technology solutions for better civic discourse and our team consists of experts in the public and private enterprise to give a set of recommendations. We are currently under intense discussions and will unveil our suggestions on thursday. Stay Tuned.

Coming back to the FCC talk, Julius described four key principles:

  1. Most importantly he described the spectrum shortage as a looming crisis and that additional spectrum capacity is needed to handle the demand of data traffic from data cards and smartphones (something we have illustrated in detail in our paper – "Managing growth and profits in the Yottabyte era")
  2. Removing red tape to allow wireless carriers to build their network faster, for example, the work with cell towers
  3. Codify and enforce net-neutrality policies
  4. Operate more openly

While 1) and 2) have been discussed in the industry for some time, it is the mention of 3) and 4) that has changed industry in more ways than one. AT&T’s Ralph de la Vega took the stage after the Chairman and gave a spirited defense of the industry that requires no regulation. Frankly, the mere mention of the word "open" has had quite an impact on the industry in last 3 months. (I will be moderating two panels at the upcoming Open Mobile Summit on "What open means to apps providers" and "Apps in the cloud" in Nov, 2009)

Of course, as always, it is from the details that the devil flexes it muscles. How FCC will end up defining "open," "net neutrality," "network management" and other key items will determine the course of the industry. I wrote a piece that appeared in RCR Wireless “Defining Mobile Broadband” that outlined some of the same principles but from an operator strategy point of view suggested a much broader strategic imperative of building intelligent platform to survive long-term. The recommendations we made in our Yottabyte paper are being adopted and discussed much more openly since it was released in July. Due to significant interest, we will some follow-up research on the topic in the coming days, so stay tuned. I will be giving a ISACA luncheon keynote on the topic on Oct 20th. Of course, our Mobile Breakfast Series panel on mobile broadband will delve into the details of the broadband ecosystem on Dec 4th. Be sure to register.


Each year our small community in Issaquah, WA celebrates a festival “Salmon Days.” As I was strolling around the hatchery, it helped me prepare for my talk on the Appstore ecosystem. The fish traveling upstream has several parallels to the developers trying to make in the 80,000 db appond. So, I focused my talk on how the ecosystem needs to come together urgently to build the fish ladder to give more developers a chance to make it to the next level to create a vibrant and sustainable ecosystem. While Microsoft’s mobile strategy is disarray right now, they are one of the few companies who understand the caring and feeding of the developer ecosystem (another one is Ebay). If the ecosystem focuses primarily on their profits and margins, the rich ecosystem might be at a risk of collapsing.

I discussed several factors that can help foster a healthier ecosystem starting with fish ladder. If you are interested in the presentation, please drop me a line. There was pretty good discussion from some experienced and successful developers. The emergence of appstore mania has been a double-edged sword. Developers are back in demand but their attention is finite and they are forced to allocate resources accordingly. I was also surprised to find out about the level of piracy and counterfeit goods in the appstore and how little is being done to protect legitimate developers. Some of the ladder factors I discussed were: greater revenue share, connection with investors, iTunes and carrier billing, location and presence, user profile and context, reports and analytics, $0 signup and certification, better search and discovery, social interaction and virality, flexible payment and billing models, better networks and devices, reduced fragmentation, more open APIs and marketing dollars. If you are interested, drop me a line and I will send you the ppt.


I also had a chance to moderate a panel on Mobile Advertising and the current state of affairs. While mobile advertising is the only advertising sector that has shown growth this year, it is not breaking out to stand on its own. Large media companies are primarily looking mobile as a complimentary channel though they are clearly enamored by its potential. Lack of clear, uniform, auditable metrics is another issue though various industry bodies have been working together and some guidelines are expected to be released next quarter.

Overall, the show felt like a sponsored networking party with hardly any new announcements, the show floor was easier on the feet, the attendance was down again. However, the hallway conversations and running into friends and colleagues from the distant past is always priceless. The only newsworthy highlight for me was the emergence of mobile healthcare and mobile retail as separate categories at CTIA. There is clearly much potential and interest in these areas. We will have more on these topics in the coming months.

Some of the news worth items were:

It was great catching-up with friends and colleagues. Looking forward to the next one.

Carnival of Mobilists over at October 5, 2009

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VoIP Survivor hosted by Tsahi Levent-Levi The last one was hosted at Volker on Mobile As usual good readings from around the web.