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This article was published on March 25, 2011

A wireless conference…but where are the apps?

A wireless conference…but where are the apps?
Brad McCarty
Story by

Brad McCarty

A music and tech junkie who calls Nashville home, Brad is the Director TNW Academy. You can follow him on Twitter @BradMcCarty. A music and tech junkie who calls Nashville home, Brad is the Director TNW Academy. You can follow him on Twitter @BradMcCarty.

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I was pretty excited to head to CTIA. Not only because I knew that I’d see some amazing wireless technology (and I did) but also because I knew that there was a large section of the floor dedicated solely to applications. This, in case you’ve not read my gushing love of apps on TNW Apps before, was enough to get my pulse racing.

So there I stood at the bottom of the escalator, getting ready for my first steps onto the show floor. After visiting the booths of some major mobile manufacturers, it was high time to get into some apps love.

I had no doubt that we probably weren’t going to see many consumer-focused applications, but I was OK with that. B2B was fine, as long as it was unique and took advantage of emerging wireless technology. I expected to see some LTE/WiMax stuff, perhaps some educational tech and maybe even some medically-oriented apps.

What I saw was, in a word, disappointing.

That’s not to say that the quality of the apps that were there was bad. That’t not at all the case. The apps that were there were absolutely top-notch stuff that, while amazing to me, probably would have bored you to death. We’ve found that our TNW readers aren’t big into B2B, and that was in fact a lot of what was around.

The disappointing thing for me was that there were only 4 or 5 offerings that really pushed boundaries. Out of the 50 or so application developers that I talked to, most of them seemed to be trying to do what was already done, only different.

While there is a place for that inside of our world in technology, that seems to be an all-too-often case. Tech is a world where “me too” gets nearly as much attention as groundbreaking. It’s a sad state of affairs, but that’s simply the way things are. I wanted to be blown away by something that was new and otherwise undone. The closest thing that I saw to that had absolutely nothing to do with applications, and it left me wanting for more from that section of the event.

It is 2011, we have nearly broadband-quality mobile Internet in a very wide portion of the United States. While I obviously can’t speak about the state of the rest of the world, it seems that developers aren’t paying nearly enough attention to what could be done, and they’re focusing rather on the easy way to gather attention.

Maybe it’s a character flaw of mine, but I have never wanted to be the one to ride on the coat tails of another. Apps developers that we write about here on TNW do interesting, unique and usable things, they are not the ones who just hope to ride an existing wave, and that’s a lot of what I saw at CTIA’s apps section.

My hope isn’t gone, though. I got some great interviews done and there are companies that are doing things that I can’t really tell you about yet, but will be able to soon. For now, CTIA is over and I’m taking a nap. We’ll catch up to the rest of the apps soon.

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