Weekly Wrap: Tradeshow Time
By Carlo Longino, Fri Mar 26 09:30:00 GMT 2004

CeBIT drew to a close this week, and CTIA came and went. We've got news from those shows, and more...


Product announcements have been flying thick and fast from the two shows, with plenty going on in the rest of the world too. We were just leaving Hannover at the beginning of the week, where companies exhibiting at CeBIT were emphasizing the applications of their new devices and services, rather than their tech specs. Mobile vendors and carriers seem to be realizing that most people need something more than acronyms and tech terms to choose products, and they're obliging by working in real-world examples of how their products can be used.

One announcement from CeBIT that seemed to go unnoticed was Nokia's unveiling of Pocket Kingdom: Own the World for the N-Gage, the first mobile massively multiplayer online role-playing game. It answers one of the most pressing complaints about the N-Gage, the lack of any connected multiplayer games. Multiplayer should become even more common, however, after Nokia and Sun said they were making the SNAP mobile multiplayer system available for J2ME.

Over in Asia, NTT DoCoMo announced details of their new flat-rate data plan, their latest attempt to compete with KDDI's 3G offering that's been hitting them pretty hard the last several months. DoCoMo's also adding a dual-mode WCDMA/GSM handset to compete with Vodafone KK for globe-trotting Japanese 3G users.

Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong regulators have proposed shutting down the country's CDMA and TDMA networks, which have been bleeding users, to make room for a CDMA2000 3G license. Hong Kong's 4 existing 3G operators are already fighting it out in one of the most competitive markets in the world, and it's unclear exactly why the country would need a fifth 3G carrier.

Trains, planes and automobiles were big this week. At CTIA, Lucent was pushing a product that uses EV-DO networks for backhaul for a Wi-Fi access point, making it a good fit for trains, buses and other ground-transportation systems. More details also emerged this week about Connexion, Boeing's in-flight Net access system, that will launch on German airline Lufthansa in April.

Over in Korea, KT is trying its hand at the convergence game, selling a Bluetooth-equipped handset that can be used on CDMA mobile networks, as well as over standard fixed lines.

Elsewhere on the site this week, David Pescovitz looks at the emerging memory-recording movement, Douglas Rushkoff wonders about the impact of rocking the wireless vote and Howard Rheingold ruminates on the future of shared computing.