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Wireless trade group CTIA to drop one conference

The group says it will move away from two shows a year to instead focus on a single "super show" in the fall starting in 2014.

Roger Cheng/CNET

Wireless trade group CTIA said today that it will go from two shows a year to a single conference in the fall starting in 2014.

The group, which is primarily focused on the U.S. wireless industry and includes carriers, handset manufacturers, and other related companies, has traditionally held two shows each year: a larger main show in the spring and a smaller, more business-focused event in the fall called MobileCon. The group will continue to hold both events this year.

Pressured by competing trade shows and its own members, CTIA will merge the conferences into a single "super show" in the fall, which it has coined "Super Mobility Week."

"I believe the show will be bigger than the two combined," said Rob Mesirow, show director and vice president of the CTIA.

The main show has long been considered an also-ran event because of its unfortunate scheduling. The CTIA Wireless show comes after the larger Consumer Electronics Show and Mobile World Congress, which often steal away many of the major announcements. The second fall show has always been much smaller in scale and attracted a more limited crowd.

By focusing its efforts on a single fall show, CTIA hopes to provide its members with a platform to make product announcements for the holiday season, Mesirow said in an interview.

"A lot of small events take place in the second half, but there isn't one large event with gravitational pull, and what we found is companies are looking for a place to make product announcements for the holiday season," he said.

Still, even the larger shows are starting to see their own relevance wane as companies opt to hold their own events. Apple has long shunned conferences, and Microsoft has pulled out of its long-held keynote slot at CES. This past spring, Samsung opted to skip CTIA all together, instead holding meetings and presentations in the same city but away from official show grounds. Samsung had announced its Galaxy S III flagship smartphone at its own event a little before CTIA.

Still, CTIA believes the confluence of media, industry observers and executives, and retailers at a single show make for an attractive site for companies that may not have the cachet to pull off their own event.

MobileCon is the name of the fall CTIA show. Lynn La/CNET

Mesirow said he believes the 2014 CTIA show will be bigger by including more facets of the mobile industry, including networking companies, machine-to-machine providers, global consumer electronics companies, connected home companies, media companies, and advertising.

"It's a holistic vision of where the wireless industry is moving," he said, noting there would be several "show within a show" areas addressing those different categories, including MobileCon, and new strategic partners. Mesirow wouldn't comment on who those new partners may be.

Mesirow said the trade group has been working on the concept for the last two years, and made the decision this year after polling its members. Many of the larger industry players have complained that the two conferences and the obligation to show up were often a drain on resources.

The CTIA, meanwhile, has added Apple as a board member, and while the company isn't likely to show up at its trade show, the group will have a new "iZone" area focused on the Apple ecosystem.