Wireless industry show has local ring
Even a fast-moving Tony Hawk would have a hard time keeping up with the fast-paced wireless business. But the legendary skateboarder will...
Seattle Times technology reporter
LOS ANGELES — Even a fast-moving Tony Hawk would have a hard time keeping up with the fast-paced wireless business. But the legendary skateboarder will be among the luminaries lending their presence at a conference that kicks off today to showcase everything new in the industry.
The three-day show — CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment — focuses on two areas: mobile applications for corporations and mobile entertainment, which includes music, games, video and content.
CTIA, the wireless-industry trade organization, expects more than 15,000 attendees and 300 exhibitors for the event at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Keynotes include speakers from companies ranging from News Corp. and Virgin Mobile to Sony BMG Music Entertainment and EA Mobile.
Local companies here include Microsoft, InfoSpace, Action Engine, Medio Systems, UIevolution, thePlatform, M:Metrics, AOL's Seattle-based wireless operations, SNAPin, Junxion Box and NetMotion Wireless.
Of those companies, a number are expected to make announcements, including a handful today.
• Bellevue-based InfoSpace, which helps wireless carriers deliver content to mobile phones, is expecting to make a big splash at the show by constructing a 50-foot skateboarding ramp at its booth to feature live skateboarding by Tony Hawk.
As part of the demonstration, InfoSpace plans to announce a new brand called "Tony Hawk's Mobile Dissent." Exclusive to InfoSpace, the content will target individuals interested in skateboarding, snowboarding, BMX biking and other extreme sports.
Tony Hawk content, to be available online or on phones, will include ringtones of songs from Hawk's personal playlist and sound effects that include a skater wiping out and breaking bones.
As part of the deal, InfoSpace said it has signed an agreement to create mobile versions of games by Activision, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based publisher of digital entertainment.
Previously, game company Jamdat developed mobile games for Activision until it was purchased by Electronic Arts to become EA Mobile.
InfoSpace also plans to announce a new release of its Find it! application, which allows users to search for local listings of stores, banks, dry cleaners, restaurants and movie theaters on phones.
The application, available on the Sprint and Nextel networks, costs $2.99 a month and uses technology that doesn't require the user to enter a location but still knows where he or she is.
The new version, available in October, will include spoken turn-by-turn directions and more listings, including Wi-Fi access points, golf courses and events.
The upgraded service will also have advertising.
Rod Diefendorf, InfoSpace's vice president of online and local search, said the advertising will work similarly to how it does on the Web today.
Merchants who sign up to pay when a user clicks on an advertised link will similarly pay when a mobile user clicks or calls from a phone.
For simplicity, Diefendorf said, the technology will not distinguish where the lead is coming from.
He also said that, unlike on the PC, advertising will not affect a listing's placement on the phone but will only be highlighted to appear different.
• thePlatform, a Seattle-based company recently purchased by Comcast, said it plans to announce a new service today that will help broadcast-TV producers move their content to the mobile phone or over broadband networks.
Previously, thePlatform helped content owners publish video and audio on platforms the company helps manage, including Verizon Wireless' V Cast video system.
The new service helps content owners publish to platforms of a much wider range of companies, including Cingular Wireless, Amp'd Mobile, Comcast, GoTV, MobiTV and Verizon Wireless.
"We see this area as a large growth area," said Chief Executive Ian Blaine. "We are removing some of the technical complexities."
Two of the first companies to sign up are ESPN and Airborne Entertainment, a publisher of premier mobile entertainment content and applications.
thePlatform will help them convert video content so that it can be used on the various platforms.
Also expected today:
• Bellevue-based Action Engine plans to announce that SmartVideo Technologies will use its mobile search technology to make it easier to find shows in its SmartVideo Mobile Entertainment Program Guide, which includes video from ABC News, CNBC, Fox Sports and more.
• Bellevue-based SNAPin plans to announce that its software, which helps consumers use their phones more easily by providing instructions through the handset, will be available for Nokia's Series 60, third edition, and Windows Mobile 5.0.
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