There was a toast and then the cutting of a large while cake on the CTIA show floor Wednesday, marking the 25th anniversary of CTIA’s first convention in Washington, D.C. The clinking of glasses and toast brought together CTIA President and CEO Steve Largent and Mark Louison, president of Nokia’s North American business.
Moments before the ceremony, Louison reflected on all the changes there have been in wireless telecommunications in the past 25 years. But he also predicted the next five years could bring about as great a change because of broadband wireless and the marriage of the Internet and mobile communications.
“The lines are blurring between the computer and the mobile device in your pocket,” he said. “That’s why all the companies are interested in this space.”
Louison said Nokia, which has been criticized for not having a big consumer presence in the United States, is poised to capture a bigger share of the handset and services business in the country. He said smartphones running what he called closed systems – referring to Apple’s iPhone and RIM’s BlackBerry – can succeed with a vertical model, but when wireless broadband becomes a mass-market business, companies with a more open business model – referring to Nokia – will succeed.
“We’re at Mile 3 in the Boston Marathon,” Louison said, adding that no one can predict the winner of a 26-mile race at that point.
Besides having an open business model that includes open-source Symbian for smartphones, Louison said Nokia also can take advantage of the fact that mobile subscribers typically buy a new phone at least every two years.
Plus, he said, Nokia has now built a solid relationship with the U.S. carriers, including a dedicated R&D center for North America, and collaborated with companies like Microsoft and Intel. Nokia also last year settled its long legal feud with Qualcomm. The partnership with Microsoft can result in that company’s Office tools on all Nokia smartphones.
The carrier relationships were evident at the show, with T-Mobile USA debuting Nokia’s new touch screen Nuron built with the carrier’s specifications, including its My Faves links. The phone also has Nokia’s Ovi application platform, which links directly into T-Mobile’s billing system. It also has Nokia’s free lifetime navigation application.