CTIA Fall ’09 & San Diego

I just returned from CTIA‘s Fall 2009 conference in San Diego, CA. The event has a focus on several key area of interest for me: technology, wireless/mobile platforms, and during this conference health care. Given all that I decided to make the trak out to San Siego and check out the conference. It was a great trip for a number of reasons and I learned some surprising things.

Logistics were fairly simple – I was going regular coach and staying in a Courtyard Marriott just outside the Gaslamp district (the “old” section of San Diego).  I flew US Airways out there and United back. I sure liked the seats on the US Airways plane – an Airbus A320 plane – better than United. On both flights I had the option of shelling out $7 for a crummy sandwich.

I highly recommend staying at the hotel I used, the Courtyard Marriott on Broadway. It is a great location: walking distance to both the Gaslamp District and the Padres stadium – and of course the convention center. Since it is just outside the historic center you get a break on the rates, but the building itself is a very old building – a bank in fact and this gives it some character.

So this isn’t a travel site so now to the conference. It was a bit smaller than I expected, but there were some interesting things. I’ll summarize these quickly in a bullet list:

  • When in San Diego go to the Yard House – it is on Broadway and has many many beers on tap – 175 of them. Yum
  • Samsung (“Moment”) and Motorola (Cliq) showed off next generation Android phones – very impressive. The most impressive thing to me was the Bluetooth functions. As with iPhone I thought Bluetooth was not in for the OS. Sorry iPhone lovers – I’ll give iPhone 1/2 support for bluetooth…enough to do well er nothing much for me. It remains to be seen what the support really is on these phones (SPP, OBEX?) . I did successfully pair a phone with my b-berry and I have pinged people at both companies to get more details.
  • Wipjam: Sound kinky but this session was the best of the conference I think. A twist on a panel session, the talks here were billed as the “unpanel” talks (“anti-panel” {reminds me of anti-matter} would be better). Any talk that starts with serious threats to de-tie people works for me, but I think it did fall a bit short of the “developer” focus at this conference since there were a lot of upper execs that might have been coders a while back but obviously are no longer.
  • Smart Grids: Ok – has nothing to do with me, but it was really interesting to hear about the developments in the energy and power control industry.
  • Mobile Sorcery: These guys make a C/C++ mobile application development and porting platform. They’ve gone open-source. Looks interesting – I met the head of the company. A pretty funny guy with some good insights on mobile development. I think you write a base in c/C++ and then the tools will port out to different platforms like J2ME, Symbian, Android, etc.
  • The keynotes were ok, but I’m not much for all that kind of stuff. The most interesting was actually the FCC chairman giving a bunch of stats on mobile use.  I didn’t get all the stats, but the one I remember is that every day 4.5 billion SMS messages are sent in the US. That’s just amazing.
  • Eclipse Pulsar is getting better so this is something to keep an eye on. I met the head of that project and talked to him for a bit.
  • There were some sessions on healthcare applications and requirements, but really if you are in that space then they were pretty boring and “no duh” kind of stuff. The last event – the “fund fest” – awarded a project developing an M2M glucometer as the best commercial idea. Hmmm….their business model will be to make money on the strips…ummm….and the guy running the project was the White House appointee to write the White House official report on healthcare and how to fix it. I guess he missed the whole shift away from strips to A1C testing.

I’m sure I’ll find some more things that were cool at the event and add them in here, but that’s what I can get down quickly on paper. Sorry I didn’t take too many pics. Overall a good conference, but I guess I prefer more developer focused conferences where there is coding. Another bummer was the limited WiFI support…kind of stupid for a conference about wireless to not have wireless everywhere.

Kudos to the Courtyard Marriott (530 Broadway). I have to say the staff is really friendly and had great tips on restaurants. I don’t think I’ve ever thought that about any hotel I’ve stayed at really. Sometimes they are nice – but these guys were great.

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