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CTIA Super Mobility Week Has Retail Focus

LAS VEGAS – CTIA’s Super Mobility Week will attract attendees ranging from health-care professionals, enterprise IT professionals, and M2M and automotive executives, but retail will represent the largest share of CTIA attendees and will account for a third of the convention’s overall square footage.

The show’s retail zone includes exhibits of retail and supply-chain management solutions, value-added distributors, devices, consumer electronics, and accessories, with a separate 10,100-squarefoot iZone carved out for iOS devices and accessories. Both zones are slightly larger than last year’s.

The iZone enters its third year and is the largest yet, said Rob Mesirow, VP and show director.

Overall square footage for the association’s 30th anniversary show is up 15 percent compared with last year’s combined CTIA 2013 and IT-oriented MobileCON 2013, thanks largely to bigger booths and growth in the MobilCON enterprise-IT area, he said. The two shows, held in 2013 at different times of the year, have been combined into one for 2014.

With retailers in mind, the association teamed for the second consecutive year with David Sprosty, former Best Buy Mobile CEO and former chief executive of Systemax’s North American retail business, to create a second-day executive session with top retailers. The show will also host a separate seminar on the outlook for werables in the fourth quarter and beyond.

Retail executives participating in the retail keynote session, scheduled for the second day from 3:30 to 4:25 p.m., are Kevin Meagher, smart home VP/general manager at Lowe’s Home Improvement; Lance Rusco, Best Buy mobile strategy director; Scott Young, Staples product and business development senior VP; and Michael Castleman, Sears Holdings president of the Kenmore, Craftsman and Diehard brands.

Most of the retailers, except Lowe’s, sell mobile phones and tablets, but all have entered one or more Internet of Things (IoT) categories, such as the home-automation or wearables segments. The retail executives will discuss new ways that retailers are participating in the connected lifestyle and what consumers are looking for in IoT products, Sprosty said.

The retailers will also discuss such topics as the impact of installment-billing programs on their cellphone and tablet sales and how the programs could change retailers’ business models.

The TWICE-sponsored wearables seminar, scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 10, at 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., will focus on the outlook for wearable computers in the fourth quarter and beyond. Wearable computers are an eclectic group of products that include smart watches, fitness bands, kid-tracking GPS/cellphone watches, sports-training sensors, running watches and action cams. Participants will discuss which types of wearables will prove the most popular in the fourth quarter and at what price points, how the products are being merchandise, which channels of distribution will take the lead, and what will accelerate future growth.

Participants include Eddie Hold, VP of The NPD Group’s Connected Intelligence group, and T.J. Dailey, national product manager for accessories at Moorehead Communications, a Verizon premium dealer that operates 300 The Cellular Connection stores and franchises 300 more stores. Moorehead is adding home-automation and wearables to its product assortment.

Home automation will also play a role in the show, with the convention’s Connected Life zone featuring homeautomation products as well as automotive and other M2M exhibits. AT&T also teamed up with CTIA to sponsor an off-site connected home.

Interest by wireless specialty stores and carrier-owned stores in home automation and in other products that connect to smartphones and tablets is driving traditional suppliers of CE to the show. They include suppliers of Bluetooth speakers, headphones and the like. Bluetooth speaker exhibitors include Damson Audio, Jabra, Scosche and Voxx Accessories. Wi-Fi-based home automation will get some attention from Belkin at the show. Other accessory makes include Otterbox, Panda, Panavise, and Body Glove. Cellphone booster suppliers Wilson, ZBoost, and Z-Cell will also exhibit.

Wireless stores and carrier stores are more aggressively pursuing mobile-related CE categories, including kid- and pet-tracking devices, because “the ecosystem around the phone is expanding,” said Steven Baker, The NPD Group’s industry analysis VP. “It’s a margin enhancement,” and it “monetizes traffic,” he said. (See the next issue of TWICE for an analysis of the trend by carrier stores and wireless stores to offer mobile-related CE products.)

The wireless channel’s interest in CE-related products extends to portable music playback, with Sprint hosting a day-two mobile music panel from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. featuring music entrepreneur Thomas Dolby and David Chesky, CEO of HDtracks and Chesky Records. Sprint recently launched the Harman Kardon edition of the HTC One M8 smartphone with ability to store high-resolution music tracks, and Chesky Records provides high-resolution music downloads for playback on the phone, computers and dedicated portable music players.

Other keynote speakers include Federal Communications Commission Chairman and former CTIA president Tom Wheeler, who will speak during the morning of day one, as will Twitter CEO Dick Costolo. Also in the morning of day one, Verizon Wireless president/ CEO Dan Mead, who is also CTIA chairman, will host a panel on mobile video with Alcatel- Lucent CEO Michael Combes and ESPN sales and marketing EVP Sean Bratches.

In the afternoon of day one, three executives will speak on innovation: Lookout CEO Jim Dolce, Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson and Stephen Elop, executive VP of Microsoft’s devices group.

On the morning of day two, the keynote speaker will be SAP CEO Bill McDermott. AT&T Mobility president/CEO Ralph de la Vega will host a panel on the connected car with Ericsson senior VP and chief technology officer Ulf Ewaldsson; Mary Chan, GM’s president of global connected consumer; VoiceBox CEO Mike Kennewick; and Diarmuid O’Connell, business development VP at Tesla Motors. The music panel will also be held in the morning.

On the morning of day three, the keynote speaker will be Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO and founder of the Downtown Project. Also in the morning, NFL Network correspondent Andrea Kremer will moderate a sports roundtable that includes NASCAR chairman/CEO Brian France; John Kosner, ESPN’s digital and print media executive VP; Emmitt Smith, chairman of Prova Group and Pro Football Hall of Fame member; and Octagon chief strategy officer Simon Wardle.