Now that the dust has settled and the Orange County Convention Center is ready for its next trade show, which companies really got their money's worth hyping their new handsets at CTIA? Here's my Top 5 Big Winners from the wireless industry's big show:
You really couldn't get anywhere near CTIA without noticing Samsung's presence. They had banners inside the convention center, banners on the exterior of the building, and even a banner or two hanging on the faces of adjacent buildings. Samsung built a lot of hype surrounding the launch of UpStage, their new music phone for Sprint, and while the public will decide whether or not the dual-sided candybar phone is a winner, Sammy's presence at CTIA was impossible to ignore. Along with their Ultra Series handsets and the new dual-pivot u740 for Verizon, Samsung thrust UpStage into the eyes and minds of nearly every show-goer this year.
2. Tie: Apple and Pantech
It really says something when two of the most talked about phones at a convention weren't even out on the show floor. Phone geek hearts everywhere skipped a few beats when AT&T's Randall Stephenson pulled an iPhone out of his pocket during his keynote address. The rumor mill now pegs June 11 as the launch date for this much talked about but seldom seen handset from those renegade computer makers in Cupertino.
Perhaps even more interesting, though, was Pantech's Ocean phone, set to be launched in the next few months by Helio. Helio was showing the handset behind closed doors, only, and everyone who glimpsed the dual-slider smartphone came away impressed. Sporting a new user interface, top-notch Web browser, and three-layer candybar design with full dialing and QWERTY keypads, Ocean is the phone Helio CEO Sky Dayton says he dreamt about making when he took over the company.
HTC didn't have a booth on the main show floor, but they were at the pre-show Mobile Focus event with an array of smartphones on display. The Advantage, which HTC announced they'll be selling direct to US consumers under their own brand name, garnered the lion's share of attention, though the Vox may be the most practical of HTC's new offerings. Featuring a sliding QWERTY board in a standard candybar phone form factor, the Vox offers full email and texting functionality in a handset that's a little smaller and cuter than your average smartphone. Also on display - though inside a glass box - was the Shift, HTC's first entry into the Ultra Mobile PC market.
5. Tie: LG and Sony Ericsson
LG had a snazzy booth with a real live DJ and, oh yeah, also announced a US version of their uber-chic Shine phone. The brushed metal VX8700 clamshell will be available through Verizon next week, and while Verizon seems to have chosen to drop the Shine moniker, this new flip is certainly worthy of some consideration if you like your phones sexy, full-featured and, yes, shiny.
Sony Ericsson gets props for introducing two new US-spec handsets, including their first HSDPA phone, the glossy (if not shiny) z750 clamshell. SE was also showing off what may be the most gorgeous phone they've ever made, the w880 Walkman phone. This one's not bound for the US just yet, but I'm sure unlocked versions of this super-thin GSM candybar will be showing up on eBay before too long.