CTIA Fall 2009 — Android’s Coming Out Party

The Fall CTIA is always the red-headed step child of the two CTIAs. At least they usually happen in San Francisco, the new center of the mobile universe, but this year, the Fall CTIA was in San Diego, and of the two CTIAs it was more like the red-headed step child with 11 toes. Attendance was just down, I don’t know what the numbers are that CTIA is releasing (nor would I necessarily believe them), but it was just a down feeling you got. Another feeling I got from CTIA, was the overwhelming presence of a little green robot: Android.

500px-android-logosvgGoogle and Verizon set the tone with their announcement at the beginning of the week. With Motorola showing a major commitment to Android with their CLIQ/DEXT, and phones either released or in the pipeline from every major OEM,  the little green robot was on everyone’s lips the whole week.

Everyone seemed to be mentioning Android as the “next step” for their company or product. Maybe it’s just hype, but you get the feeling that the iPhone was just a preview of what we will see with Android. As if the iPhone rewrote the rules and just set the stage for what Android can/will do.  At last year’s CTIA, everyone knew that getting on better hardware than the dodgy G1 would be the next step for Android, and open up a world of opportunities. Well, with the HTC’s MyTouch and  Hero, this next step has happened.

Android–the Next WinMo?

With WinMo 6.5 only a touch-up on 6.1, and Motorola announcing  they will skip 6.5 entirely, are consumers  (or the bigger question–other OEMs) going to be patient enough to wait for Windows Mobile 7, especially since Microsoft is notorious for missing internal deadlines? With Motorola and Samsung and even Sony Ericsson going Android, are we witnessing the birth of the next Windows Mobile and the death of the first one?

But never count out Microsoft, because even if they aren’t the most nimble company around, they basically have unlimited acquisition assets and  can buy the companies that are nimble. Also, if Microsoft wanted to cease mobile operations, and start from scratch once the smartphone OS industry has matured, they can afford to do that. Remember the X-BOX launch? Microsoft insinuated itself out of nowhere into an industry that was dominated by a handful of players.

But I’m getting distracted–the point of this post is not about WinMo, it’s that I’m extremely bullish on Android, and the time of taking a “wait-and-see” approach from folks in the industry is over. If you don’t have an Android strategy in the smartphone game, then you simply don’t have a strategy.

Rich Wong, of Accel Partners wrote a great summary (ok, way better than mine) of what he saw at CTIA, give it a read to get the scoop straight from the whip-smart VC himself.

Also on the open theme of Android, I plan to file a report from the Open Mobile Summit next month in San Francisco. Anything I should look out for at the show? Let me know in the comments.

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