About 12,000 people are expected to be in San Francisco this week to attend CTIA Enterprise & Applications 2010, and as you can tell by the name, it will definitely have a business focus. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be any excitement. Motorola, Sprint, Samsung, and others will be holding press conferences to announce new products and services, and Verizon Wireless is expected to reveal more details about its blazing fast 4G LTE network. Here are five trends to watch at this fall’s show, which starts today and runs through Friday, Oct. 8. Stay tuned for live coverage and our top picks.
1. 4G Wars Heat Up
Hot on the heels of Sprint and Clearwire turning 4G WiMax on in parts of New York and San Francisco and T-Mobile unveiling its second 4G smart phone (the myTouch), Verizon Wireless COO Lowell McAdam will take the stage for a session called “Mobile Commerce, Smart Energy, and LTE: The Transformative Next-Generation Network.” The carrier has already said it will launch LTE service in 25 to 30 markets by the end of the year, but we hope to learn more about which ones and possibly pricing. And since the product roadmap has already been leaked, perhaps Big Red will spill the official beans on the first 4G mobile connection cards. We can’t wait to try it out.
2. Video Calling Gets in Your Face
Apple has done the most thus far to take video chatting on mobile devices into the mainstream with FaceTime. But now other companies want to share the spotlight. Last week, startup Tango unveiled a video chat service that works across Android and iPhone, and this week Damaka will show off its cross-platform solution, which promises to help business users stream video from any mobile device to any mobile device. You can even see up to four callers at once. Now that Skype is officially in the Android market, perhaps we’ll hear more from them about their mobile video plans.
3. Tablets Get Serious
First came the Cisco Cius. Then the BlackBerry PlayBook. What’s next for business-focused tablets or tablets in general? We expect to see at least one or two new slates at CTIA Fall 2010. It’s certainly possible that Motorola will show of its first Android-based tablet, but it’s not expected to launch until next year. Overall, though, we expect to see carriers, manufacturers, and other players pitch tablets as more than just consumption devices. With the right apps (and accessories), they can be very useful business tools.
4. Mobile Banking and Payments Take Off
Everyone wants to replace your wallet with an app these days, but now we’re finally starting to see solutions that make sense to everyday consumers. For example, Square makes it easy to swipe credit cards using an attachment for the iPhone, and MobilePay USA is an app that lets you check into a retailer and then choose an existing credit card from a cloud-based menu. We’ll also be meeting with Mitek, which lets you make deposits using your smart phone’s camera.
5. Cars Get More Connected (For Better or For Worse)
With reports of texting-related traffic fatalities still on the rise despite increased awareness of the issue, we approach any technology that can potentially distract drivers more with caution. However, several companies are making a concerted effort to balance convenience with safety. We’ll be kicking the tires of Ford’s new Sync technology platform, which is more touch-friendly. We get a little squeamish when the company says it’s trying to “create an ecosystem to make mobile technology work for you at 60 miles per hour—in a safer, smarter and simpler way,” but we’ll reserve judgment until we go hands-on.