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DVD Insider CeBIT Show Report - CTIA Beauty Pageant

By The DVD Insider

In less than two years this industry has come from being a backroom event to a fashion runway event where it's important to see and be seen. Phones are no longer phones. They are fashion statements that are bent on doing it all - steaming audio, MP3 playback, mobile TV, web browsing, IM, email and the occasional phone call.

It tells you something about the show though when Kodak shares the stage with Sean "P.Diddy" Combs who just happened to bring along his new clothing collection.

We received a message on our phone at the show from an editorial friend asking where we were at. We knew but didn't know our phone even had messaging capabilities! We still haven't read the manual to figure out how to use messaging but we did fumble through and delete the message (after calling him).

Ok so we're not the target customer for most of the service and phone providers but all we want is a phone that works darn near everywhere and say 12-18 hours of calling battery life. Our wish list would also be the ability to sync up with our email service, more (maybe even removable) storage and our calendar. That implies a keyboard designed for people with "normal" size hands. Yes we did look at the Treo and look at it again in its next generation because it's getting close…ok closer.

The rest of the features that excited people at the show were added for young people who have grown up not knowing a cellular phone used to be a 5-pound brick with a battery sidepack.

Cingular and Verizon got a lot of coverage because they announced they were going to connect their picture-messaging networks so their nearly 100 million subscribers could send bad photos back and forth. It must be a hot area because the phone folks are starting to deliver camphones with 2 and 3 MP cameras. Great but the screen is still the size of an old-fashioned matchbook cover.

When your kids tell you they have to have a phone because "everyone" has one, they aren't stretching the truth. In fact 44% of the tweens and teens in the U.S. have cell phones (Figure 6). They are heavily into text messaging (82%) according to Sorrent (a firm that develops and markets products and services to this market) and 84% play mobile games and 83% use ringtones (no wonder it's a multibillion dollar industry!)

Everyone was showing off the newer and better phones we'll expect to see … soon. Motorola that had to pull the plug on their iTunes ready phone at CeBIT did show their new clamshells that included speakerphone, instant messaging, MMS, 2-3MP cameras, VGA camera, MMS and push-to-talk features. NEC, Nokia, LG, Kyocera, Samsung and the others showed a wide array of new units that had CDMA and GMS world phone service.

We liked some of the GPS capabilities but what the H*** for? Hey, it's a phone. If I'm lost I'll call for directions!!!

The bigger news was all of the services you could tap into with your phone. Hollywood, broadcasters and everyone is bent on "serving you better." Satellite radio, video on demand, email and the other services that will be introduced will only do one thing… drive up your phone bill. If you think a theater ticket is expensive, imagine paying for a movie to your service provider.

Here in the states monthly bills have started to rise (Figure 7) after years of decline. The services don't count for all of this - there has been consolidation just in case you haven't noticed. But there were rumors of tiered services much like your cable system at the show. Good because we didn't want to watch your TV show or movie nor listen to your music anyway and paying for something we don't intend on using seems counter-productive.

But the two shows give every indication of renewed vitality. The big winners seem to be the software and service providers.

As for us? We've got a great digital camera/camcorder, a cellphone that does more than we know how to do but we do have our eyes on a great new ultralite notebook with all the bells and whistles!!!


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