Savvy app developers looking to connect with the major players in the wireless industry can find their networking needs met at the CTIA Enterprise and Application show.
The wireless confab, which officially kicks off today, will offer small developers access to the major carriers, handset manufacturers, and large businesses looking to delve more into the mobile world.
"For developers, it's all about the opportunities," said Rob Mesirow, vice president and show director for CTIA.
CTIA was actually ahead of its time in its focus on apps. The show was previously called Wireless Apps before it was changed in 1995 to Wireless IT. That was well before the advent of modern apps, when the wireless industry was trying to get the development community to build business programs.
Apps are still expected to play a major role. American Express and Polycom, two companies not known for playing in the mobile world, are expected to talk about their own apps in keynote speeches tomorrow.
Mesirow said there are 20 developer events at the show, and that 17 are free to attend. They include "speed sessions" where developers get 16 five-minute presentations on ideas for the next app or big trend.
Like other conferences, CTIA will hold its own version of a hackathon, called the Mobile OS challenge, which Mesirow calls a highlight of the show. He said the event, which lasts the three days of the show, is a good way to develop new contacts.
Attendees will be able to use the CTIA mobile app during panel discussions to see not only the guest speakers but also get a biography of people sitting near them, allowing developers to start a dialogue with fellow audience members.
"Often when you go into a session, you're sitting there and then you rush the stage to talk to four people when the person they really need to talk to is right next to them," Mesirow said.
The show will also be a chance for developers to see what major companies are doing in the app world. Companies such as Aetna, Anheuser-Busch, and American Express will have a presence at the show. Some are looking for talent.
Apps taking advantage of communities and local marketing will also get a spotlight at the show, Mesirow said. Shopkick, which will have a keynote presentation Thursday, is an example of an app that combines many ideas into one package, from the use of location-based data to the delivery of offers.
There will also be a lot of discussions on mobile marketing, social commerce, and mobile money, said Mesirow, who calls the convergence of all that "a supertrend."
Another opportunity will be the development of applications for next-generation LTE networks. Verizon Wireless is expected to make some noise about its efforts to spur the creative process for LTE apps.
"Two years from now, we'll be blown away by how apps will use their networks," Mesirow said.
As a quick plug, I'll be moderating a panel focusing on all things apps-related at CTIA today. You can expect a summary of the discussion in next week's column.