The CTIA show, which at the end of this week bid farewell to its current format, still had one or two surprises, despite coming under criticism from some in the tech world for having Jennifer Lopez and Ashton Kutcher as keynote speakers, rather than say Steve Ballmer or Eric Schmidt.
And it was Ms Lopez who proved to be one of the stars of the event, revealing that she is going into partnership with US network carrier Verizon to launch Viva Movil, a chain of phone shops targeting the country’s Hispanic community. “This new company is here to revolutionize the entire mobile experience for Latinos," said Lopez. "There's no specific place for Latinos to be specifically catered to. We will continuously evolve the wireless shopping experience with Verizon Wireless's guidance and support." Incidentally, Lopez is Viva Movil’s creative director.
The coolest gadget was the Kevo electronic door lock, which replaces the traditional key with a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone and an app so that the user can press a finger against the door lock, rather than insert a key to gain entry to his or her home. The device has already generated a buzz on the internet but at CTIA was seen for the firtst time in the flesh.
Ericsson demonstrated perhaps the most interesting concept at the event, its smart windows. Presented under the banner “Windows of Opportunity,” one concept pane was embedded with signal booster antennae to help improve cell phone reception without spoiling the view. A second demonstration window was fitted with sensors so that a user could tap and swipe the glass as they would the screen of a smartphone or tablet, in order to turn the glass into a remote control unit for the connected home – turning on lights, increasing the air conditioning and turning down the music volume.
Ashton Kutcher closed out the event with a Q and A session where he accused Twitter – a service he loves – of creating too much noise and of drowning out real messages, and suggesting that Facebook should remove extra features, such as its Gifts service from the main app and package them as independent services. In the talk, the tech-savvy actor, who has invested heavily in Silicon Valley start-ups over recent years, also underlined the importance of mobile in the coming years and revealed that he wouldn’t be prepared to back any consumer-facing company that didn’t have a mobile strategy.
From 2014 onwards, there will be one combined CTIA held in Las Vegas in September.