CTIA to merge its mobile trade shows into one event

Starting in 2014, the group will host one main show in Las Vegas, with several adjoining events

U.S. mobile trade group CTIA will combine its two annual trade shows starting in 2014 as it tries to attract a bigger share of the world's interest in smartphones, apps and other hot technologies.

The group's flagship event, CTIA Wireless, takes place every spring and is followed by a fall show, now called MobileCon and focused on enterprises. The current lineup will remain for 2013, but next year the organization will throw all its effort into a single event called simply CTIA 2014. That show will take place in September of that year in Las Vegas, which will host it for the foreseeable future, said Rob Mesirow, CTIA's vice president and show director.

Though it's the biggest mobile show in North America, CTIA Wireless has ended up in the shadow of both CES at the start of the year and Mobile World Congress, which takes place in late winter in Europe.

"As wireless permeates all consumer electronics and wireless becomes more and more global, CES and MWC have taken a lot of the oxygen out of the first quarter," analyst Roger Entner of Recon Analytics said. So much big news comes out at those two shows that there's simply not much left for CTIA, he added.

CTIA tried to ease this effect last year by pushing its main show back from March to late May, Mesirow said. This year, CTIA Wireless will take place in Las Vegas on May 21-23. But for two years, the group has also been exploring bigger changes. It has been talking to show participants and focus groups about the best way and the best time to put on its events, Mesirow said.

The group's conclusion was to build a bigger show in fall, when there aren't any big events focused on the mobile industry, Mesirow said. CTIA also hopes to host product launches that are timed for the end-of-year holiday season, he said.

One wild card in CTIA's move is IFA, the annual consumer electronics show that takes place in Berlin in late August, according to analyst Avi Greengart of Current Analysis. Unlike CTIA, IFA has a European slant and is aimed more at consumers, with a show floor that's open to the public, he said. However, IFA has played host to some notable mobile product announcements, including several Android and Windows devices from Samsung last year.

Another trend, in which mobile vendors are following Apple and hosting their own launch events, is starting to grab headlines from all technology trade shows, Greengart said.

CTIA envisions the new show, with the tagline "Super Mobility Week," as an overarching event that encompasses several smaller events addressing areas such as enterprise mobility, machine-to-machine communication and digital homes, Mesirow said. Each will be organized with one or more partners, and a pass to any of the specialized shows will include access to the main event, he said. Unlike side shows in the past, which typically took place the day before CTIA, these will be designed to run throughout the three-day event, which will take place Sept. 9-11, 2014, at the Sands Expo Convention Center.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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