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WIRELESS DATA SHOWS TRY A LITTLE DIFFERENT LOOK

Like a teenager desperately trying to find the right “look,” industry associations focused on the mobile data field continue to tweak their strategies for marketing the enigmatic technology.

The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association recently announced it renamed its annual mobile data show Wireless Information Technology Expo, or Wireless IT, previously know as Wireless Apps. The event will be held Oct. 12-14 at Bally’s in Las Vegas.

According to Rob Mesirow, CTIA’s new vice president of conventions, the new name represents a refocused and expanded convention, to include segments of mobile computing, local multipoint distribution services, 3G, narrowband personal communications services, wireless data, smart phones, advanced messaging, wireless LAN, infrared data, wireless Internet, Cellular Digital Packet Data, antennas, satellites, modems, handheld computing and communications devices, handsets and accessories.

“It brings clarity to the event,” Mesirow said. “Wireless Apps kind of got stuck in the application channel. Wireless IT is an evolution. It’s a natural progression of where the industry is going.”

The idea is to bring together IT professionals, Internet service professionals, corporate end users, wireless developers, advanced wireless carriers, value-added resellers, wireless integrators, retailers, small office/home office professionals and international buyers from evolving countries.

“Wireless IT is about bringing together a new generation of cutting-edge converging wireless/ computing technologies, products and services with the high-tech professionals who are the industry’s allies,” Mesirow said.

According to Mesirow, since the show was announced a month ago, it already is half sold, and CTIA expects a complete sellout in another month.

“I think you’re going to see a huge metamorphosis of this event over the next few years,” Mesirow said. Although the event will take place in Las Vegas this year, he said CTIA expects it to move to San Francisco next year, where it will likely stay, to take advantage of the Silicon Valley vicinity.

The new focus is due in part to an extensive survey CTIA undertook, which essentially asked carriers what it could do to better depict the current mood of the industry. Some wireless data carriers and vendors complained in the past that the shows did little to further their interests.

Wireless Data Forum

Also undergoing a rebirth is the Wireless Data Forum, which last year changed its name from the CDPD Forum. The WDF is holding its Vancouver Summit this week at the Westin Bayshore Hotel, a large goal of which is to revitalize the association’s members.

“It’s important to regenerate excitement with the association itself among the membership,” said Mark Desautels, managing director of WDF. “Whenever you go through a change as the Forum did, the membership wants to know what is the purpose of associating. The conference will provide a lot of those answers.”

Recently announced new members include Qualcomm Inc., Aeris Communications Inc. and Cellemetry L.L.C.

“Judging by the response for Vancouver, members are beginning to see a focus and begin to identify through the structural changes some of the programs and activities they want to participate in within the upcoming months,” Desautels said.

The WDF also recently took a survey of its members to gather information needed to create a sort of depository of wireless data facts for investors and media.

“We wanted to identify ourselves as being an important source of information,” Desautels said. “One session is devoted to the development of a wireless data index, with information provided by members, to benchmark what is going on in the wireless data industry-from carriers to vendors to application developers.”

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