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3/26/2010
09:16 AM
Fritz Nelson
Fritz Nelson
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Full Nelson: CTIA: HTC EVO 4G And All The Toys

This year's annual mobile industry gathering saw more 4G phones, more handsets, and a little bit more focus on the enterprise. Our Full Nelson columnist dials in his take on the new gear and services.



Fritz Nelson Ericsson this week declared that mobile data has exceeded mobile voice (probably the combined effect of Jesse James's texts and @ConanOBrien retweets). People who like to predict things say mobile devices will outstrip computers within the next three years. With our phones, we work and we play. At the CTIA wireless conference, held in Las Vegas March 22 through 25, I saw plenty of technology that lets people do both. Let's play first, and in part two, I'll get to the work.

1) HTC EVO 4G on Sprint. This was, simply, the hit of CTIA. I don't know how Sprint does it, but once a year it seems that, despite either dismal subscriber numbers or poor financial performance, or layoffs or whatever, it makes big noise with an exclusive partnership. OK, maybe that's just for the past two years, but in 2009 at CES Sprint teamed up with Palm to launch the Pre, and became the exclusive provider for a short time. This year, it unveiled the first 4G handset, launched exclusively on the Sprint network.

HTC EVO 4G on Sprint
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HTC EVO 4G on Sprint
I swore I wouldn't get sucked into YAP (yet another phone), but one always stands out. Not only does this 1GHz processor Android 2.1 OS smart phone do 4G, but also 3G since WiMax is only in 27 markets (and yet, that's 27 more than LTE). Even better, it can serve as a Wi-Fi hot spot (supporting up to eight devices).

The EVO 4G has an 8-megapixel camera, but it also has 1.3 megapixel camera too (so you're not forced to upload big files), and it records high definition video (720p), which you can stream live with integrated Qik support. It includes HDMI output. Sprint showed off YouTube High Quality mobile, a first for YouTube, and it's exclusive to this phone and to Sprint's offering for now--yet another Sprint coup.

Neither Sprint nor HTC talked about pricing or battery life--the latter is removable, though--but the device is projected to come out later this Summer.

2) LG's enterprise push. LG makes some great refrigerators, and some sexy phones (see Prada), so I was surprised to find an enterprise section in the LG booth. In fact, about six months ago, LG created a division to pursue the enterprise. The unit has a director (Tony Jannsen) and a staff, and a host of partners, including Good Technology, Sybase and Citrix--all enterprise stalwarts, and all involved in helping corporations manage and secure mobile devices, applications and data.

LG is making devices that it thinks are ideal for the Air Force and Army. (Good and RIM are the only two mobile companies that offer security that meets the government's requirements, according to an LG spokesperson.)

Samsung Galaxy S
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Samsung Galaxy S
3) Samsung Galaxy S. This is another hot phone, running Android 2.1, sporting a 1-GHz processor, multitouch, a 5-megapixel camera, and the ingenious Android SWYPE capability. The latter lets you essentially draw out a word using the keyboard; just watch the Lakers' Lamar Odom on all of the Samsung advertisements during March Madness. The phone's drawback: it's what the industry likes to call a "global" device, which means it isn't available in the United States, and there are no plans for it to be. So why am I telling you?



FloTV
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FloTV
4) FloTV. I've long been a fan of FloTV, a division of Qualcomm which provides a personal TV service directly--available through retail outlets like Amazon and Best Buy--and carrier partnerships. It uses the company's own spectrum and delivers 20 channels. All are top content brands, including Disney, CBS, Fox, and the Food Network, and some of the shows are live. I've been using it to watch March Madness, and the company says that it has seen a tremendous increase in usage during the tournament; it has plans to produce more live content (it is limited in how much it can offer without impacting other channels), and even offer tiered content packages.

To hear companies like Clearwire and Sprint tell it, all of this will be available with 4G, but having used FloTV for the past four months, the performance and reliability of it is tremendous and convenient. It might be a while before this kind of TV experience hits your carrier's network.

Yahoo Sketchasearch
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Yahoo Sketchasearch
5) Yahoo Extends Search. Yahoo offered two new iPhone applications. The first is Sketchasearch, a program that assumes most point-of-interest searches are local. Take your finger and draw around a given area (or a line along a given street), and it brings up restaurants (other points of interest to come) right there on the map. From there, it uses Yahoo's superb local search database, complete with ratings and reviews and directions, and the ability to call and make reservations. All over Las Vegas, restaurants had unfulfilled reservations in my name!

Yahoo's new search app, also on the iPhone, is much smarter about context and relevance, and is voice enabled.

6) New User Interface models. Both Yahoo's Mobile Search and Sketchasearch let you shake the phone to reset a search. I bring this up because it's another interesting evolution in mobile U, along with Samsung's Swipe. I witnessed another example of this when PayPal showed me how it had integrated Bump technology into its new consumer application on the iPhone. If you haven't seen this, Bump lets you tap phones (bump) to exchange information.

For PayPal, you can use this to do things like split a check at a restaurant (maybe one you've reserved using Yahoo's Search App). If you're both using PayPal, you just bump phones after making a split check request, and voila, the money gets transferred to your bank account.

Ed Hardy's Icing series
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Ed Hardy's Icing series
7) Sexy Stuff. The fun wouldn't be complete without a little eye candy, and in the interest of thorough research, I felt compelled to go see what was new in physical phone protection, and lo and behold, Ed Hardy's Icing series was on full display! Only $40 for a phone skin, some of them bedazzled. There were Garibaldi designs ( David Garibaldi creates paintings in four minutes, I was told; these sell for up to $70,000; not a bad business model if you think about it), and fresh paintings. I took pictures of the artist with his work. These are all available here.

Click here to view all of the images from CTIA

Fritz Nelson is the editorial director for InformationWeek and the Executive Producer of TechWebTV. Fritz writes about startups and established companies alike, but likes to exploit multiple forms of media into his writing.

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