Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Live from the AT&T Developer Conference at CES...

Very compelling announcements coming out of this morning's AT&T press conference--20 new "4G" devices in 2011; a full LTE buildout by the end of 2013; Wi-Fi integration between the iPad and the U-verse set-top box, enabling enhanced control of the TV viewing experience (vital, particularly in light of Comcast's announcement this morning about enabling streaming to subscribers' mobile devices); and much more, particularly about the evolution of the AT&T network, as well as how AT&T's doing a much better job working with developers.

Note that I put 4G in quotes. The first half dozen or so of those 20 devices will be HSPA+, which is certainly faster than HSPA 7.2, but still not true 4G. Then again, the definition of 4G is 100 mb/s over a mobile link, which nobody on either the LTE or WiMAX sides is offering, so maybe everyone should be saying "4G" instead of 4G. But that'd be accuracy in advertising, and we certainly wouldn't want that.

If there's an underlying theme here from a device standpoint, it's Android, Android, Android. Ralph de la Vega called up senior execs from Motorola, HTC, and Samsung to introduce new handsets--which, tellingly, all run Android (although sadly, only 2.2). Motorola's Atrix has a dual-core processor, sweet screen, and 1930 mAh battery, which will hopefully translate into better battery life than my life-sucking Epic 4G. Samsung and HTC also check in with very cool devices; HTC's Inspire looks like the Evo 4G in a GSM flavor, while the Samsung Infuse has a ginormous 4.5" screen. None of the three has a hard keyboard; while 2011 might be the year that hard keyboards go by the wayside, predictive and corrective typing on Android must get light years better for the platform to become a success on the business side--which isn't necessarily a goal for Google in the short-term. As predictive and corrective typing goes, Apple's iOS is still generations beyond Android's. That said, all three devices look killer.

There's killer, then there's dead. As a Microsoft alum, I'd still love to see The Borg make some serious headway in mobile, but they've been barely a rounding error in the morning's presentations. David Christopher, ATTWS' CMO, made a reference to Windows Mobile as being a vital platform for AT&T, then quickly moved on--so much so that I'd guess most keynote attendees wouldn't even remember that he'd mentioned it. I'd think that WinMo is just as vital to AT&T's success as my uvula is to my ongoing health.

Note that I had my uvula removed a couple of years ago.

AT&T's U-verse demo was simultaneously cool (iPad control of the TV UI) and bogus (buying shoes off of HSN). Ugh. I think back to hawking WebTVs themselves on HSN a dozen years ago, and we were doing the same demo--clicking on a garment shown in a TV show to get more information and potentially make a purchase. Folks, seriously...as an industry, nobody's come up with a better T-commerce demo than this? My gosh, the revenue driven between then and now must total in the tens of thousands of dollars. Yikes.

AT&T's also spending a ton of time and money on developers, as the ~2,000 folks in attendance here will attest. More tidbits to come as the day rolls on. Likely to come--much more Android.

More cowbell, too...