Seattle Times technology reporter Tricia Duryee will be reporting this week from the CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment Show in San Francisco, an industry conference highlighting latest developments in the mobile entertainment business.

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POSTED 5:59 PM Thursday

The three-day CTIA show — it really felt like four days — wrapped up at 3 p.m. sharp today with the lights dimming and an announcer’s voice telling everyone to leave the show floor.


If there was one vendor who stood out — to the point of annoyance maybe — it was an outfit called sms.ac, a company that deals with short-messaging service technology. Its presence, from sponsoring the show’s tote bags to the hot babes in half shirts, was everywhere.






POSTED 5:59 PM Thursday
Overshadowed

Yesterday at CTIA, Seattle-based Loudeye said it was partnering with Qpass, another Seattle company.


Qpass will help promote Loudeye’s mobile digital media platform to partners, while Loudeye will offer Qpass’s software for delivering and providing content as an option to its mobile media customers.


The announcement may have just be a wee bit overshadowed by another announcement on Qpass’s new customer: Skype.






POSTED 11:03 AM Thursday
Clearly, another announcement

It was a year ago at CTIA that Craig McCaw announced that Intel had invested in his most recent venture, Kirkland-based Clearwire.


During the press conference, McCaw called for a moment of silence in remembrance for what he is probably most known for starting — AT&T Wireless, formerly McCaw Cellular Communications. The silence came because of AT&T Wireless’s impending sale at the time to Cingular Wireless.


Today, Clearwire makes another announcement: that it has launched its broadband wireless service in Bellingham, the second city in Washington. It also has service in the Tri-Cities area.


Clearewire is providing wireless broadband Internet access, an early version of a emerging technology known as WiMax.


At 4 p.m., Clearwire officials and community leaders are planning to cut through coaxial cable and telephone cord “to symbolize the “untethering of Bellingham,” the company said in a release.





POSTED 11:03 AM Thursday
Quick review


During a meeting with Sprint yesterday, I had an opportunity to try out the new PPC-6700 Pocket PC, which operates on Windows Mobile 5.0 with built-in EV-DO 3G technology to connect to the carrier’s fastest data network.


The device is attractive because of its size. Even with a decent size screen and a pull-out keyboard, it easily fit in my palm and felt comfortable holding it up to my ear for a phone conversation — unlike other personal digitaion assistants, which seem too bulky.


Most impressive of all is the built in Wi-Fi chip that automatically detects wireless networks and switches from the higher-cost EV-DO network to Wi-Fi, saving money and providing even faster speeds.


Sprint has not built in any limitations into the device, meaning you could install Skype on the device and potentially make phone calls without using the cellphone plan’s minutes.


Eric Martin, senior manager of business devices, confirmed that was a possibility. It’s about “the usability for the customer,” he said. “It has not been tested for [Internet telephony], but there’s nothing to restrict a third party client. It’s not going to be guaranteed to work.”




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POSTED 11:02 AM Thursday
Tailored TV


After RealNetworks CEO Rob Glaser delivered a keynote presentation yesterday, Cingular exec Jim Ryan said over lunch that RealNetworks was the only company that could handle what Cingular was looking for to bring TV to its phones


Glaser used the keynote to announce it would be launching a TV service called OnlineTV. Ryan said Cingular sees mobile phones as personal devices that should be tailored to each individual. Sending different TV or radio content to each user is an onerous, but critical task, but one RealNetworks could fulfill, he said.


Ryan explained that he is a New York Giants fan, and if he has one to five minutes, he doesn’t want to wade through multiple video clips to find out how the team was doing. When he opens the phone, he wants it to already know what he wants.


“We want to give people an unique experience,” he said.





POSTED 11:01 AM Thursday
Mapping traffic


Kirkland based Inrix, which develops software to predict traffic patterns, said yesterday at the show that Tele Atlas will bundle and resell Inrix Traffic Services to its customers.


As part of the agreement, Tele Atlas, which has American headquarters in Lebanon, N.H., will provide Inrix with the rights to resell and internally use Tele Atlas maps.


Inrix’s traffic services, developed by Microsoft Research, are available immediately to Tele Atlas customers in in-car navigation system, on the Web, in location-based services and in other markets.






POSTED 11:00 AM Thursday
Here’s the story

Seattle based Mobliss said yesterday that “Brady Bunch Kung Fu,” expected out this fall, received the 3G CDMA Industry Achievement Award for Most Innovative Mobile Game Development.


At CTIA, Mobliss had six Bradys — polyester and all — to help publicize the game.





POSTED 12:29 PM Wednesday
The wireless conflicted

In San Francisco, the city of Wi-Fi, Internet access has been somewhat difficult. When you try to connect, sometimes there will be five five network options, creating conflict.


On Tuesday, it was particularly tough in the CTIA show media center, where journalists connect to landlines and Wi-Fi systems to send their stories. Nearly every seat in the room was taken, but worse yet, the Internet was jammed.


With one Wi-Fi node serving the area, you were lucky enough to connect, and if you did, it was extremely slow.


Was it going to get better? one reporter asked a technician. Maybe later, he said, when the reporters leave. A lot of good it would do then.






Mobile execs are mobile


After starting Seattle-based Mobliss, Brian Levin spent six years running the mobile entertainment company, securing a well-known text messaging campaign for “American Idol” and AT&T Wireless.


In 2004, Mobliss was acquired by Japan-based Index.oration. A year and a half after serving as CEO under Index, Levin left the company. He was replaced by Steve Gaynor.


But that hasn’t kept Levin, who has been Mr. Mom since his departure, from attending CTIA this year. He said he’s looking for new opportunities.





What is he interested in?


Probably not a company that describes itself as the mobile version of MySpace.com, the hot Internet networking site. Since the wireless festivities began earlier this week, Levin has kept a running tally of companies that have said that. As of Tuesday afternoon — nine.






POSTED 2:18 PM Tuesday


And we call Bill


Microsoft exec Suzan DelBene, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of marking for the mobile and embedded devices division, showed off new Windows’based devices during a keynote presentation today. That included the Motorola i930 cellphone, which will be offered by Sprint and run on Nextel’s iDen wireless network and feature push-to-talk capabilities.


DelBene, the company’s vice president of marketing in the Mobile and Embedded Devices Division, said among the phone’s cool features is a spring-loaded opener that pops open the clam-shell design.


But DelBene couldn’t help showing off Microsoft’s prized announcement: The Windows operating system on the new Treo being offered by Palm and unveiled yesterday with some fanfare. In her presentation, DelBene had BIll Gates’ personal phone, which had been given to him yesterday.


DelBene apologized that the phone wasn’t working, though. During yesterday’s press conference announcing the phone, Gates’ phone number was accidentally shared with the audience.


“It’s been ringing all night,” she said. “It’s amazing the strange text message he’s been receiving.… It’s been handling huge volume already.”





POSTED 2:18 PM Tuesday
Tuned in

Melodeo’s podcasting technology for mobile phones is now available for the Motorola Razr and the iTunes Rokr phones. the company said today.


The podcasting software was already available for free download for select Nokia phones at www.melodeo.com/mobilcast.


The Seattle-based company’s Mobilcast technology, unveiled in August, allows users to search and download podcasts directly from their phones without a PC connection.


Melodeo is also working on rolling out full track music downloads for the mobile phone, a technology receiving a lot of attention at the CTIA conference.


Redwood City, Calif.-based Openwave System, which builds mobile phone software, announced yesterday that it will purchase Musiwave, a mobile music provider.


“With Musiwave, Openwave will enable operators to deliver a broad range of high value music services and associated content,” said Openwave President and Chief Executive David Peterschmidt.


Nokia also announced the release of the 3250 music phone yesterday. The Nokia 3250 is a Series 60 phone with dedicated music keys and storage for 750 songs. That pretty much blows away the Rokr, which received criticism for only allowing 100 songs to be stored.


Little wonder that all of these announcements are happening at this confence. Sprint said it will launch a full track music download service by year’s end, and Cingular said it would do the same next year.





POSTED 2:18 PM Tuesday
Musicopia

As many companies position themselves to compete in the mobile music field, there are some early signs that consumers may not be as interested in it as some people think, according to Seattle-based M:Metrics’ latest survey, released yesterday.


For now, it appears mobile users are more interested in moving music tracks from their computer to their phone, with 12.7 percent saying they are likely to do so in the coming year. Fewer than 9 percent said they were likely to subscribe to a mobile music service in the next 12 months. In each scenario, males made up the majority interested in using their mobile phone as a music device.





POSTED 11:23 AM Tuesday
Language skills

Bellevue-based UIEvolution, which builds software for producing content for mobile phones, announced today that it has licensed its software to Mobile Lingo. Mobile Lingo will use the UIEngine to create a Hip Hoptionary, or a dictionary that mobile subscribers can use to instantly find the meaning of latest hip-hop slang.


Now that’s making the skills pay for the bills.






POSTED 11:23 AM Tuesday
Survey says…

Qpass, the Seattle company that helps wireless carriers worldwide with content distribution and billing, announced a new consulting business today. The Service & Technology Enabler Program allows Qpass to take the information it accumulates in handling customers and use it to assist carriers in selling more content.


Qpass also announced the results of a study it commissioned that found carriers lost 17 percent of their revenues in 2004, or about $3.9 billion, from insecure transaction processing, according to iGillottResearch.


Such “revenue leakage” occurs because business systems aren’t intelligent enough to keep up with who is paying whom for what, the study said.


“The mobile industry is scrambling to meet the demand for innovative new content applications and services, but billions are being lost through revenue leakage,” said Iain Gillott, founder and president of iGillottResearch.





POSTED 11:23 AM Tuesday
Ringtones marching ahead

Versaly Entertainment said yesterday it will be releasing two ringtones in time for the 10th anniversary of the Million Man March. The event, organized by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrrakhan, drew African American men to Washington, D.C., in October 1995 in a movement to become more involved in communities.


Versaly, a Seattle mobile entertainment company, partnered with Chicago composer and producer Alan Curtis Green to release ringtones called “The Million Man March Theme” and “Ten Million Strong.”


Cingular Wireless and T-Mobile USA subscribers can purchase and download the “Million Man March Theme” by texting “mmm” to 64000. The ringtone costs $2.


“From the time the idea of the song came to me it’s been my vision that the song help people to see this march as more than just a march but a movement,” Green said in a statement.




POSTED 3:23 PM Monday
Searching for a party



In launching its new mobile local search service at the CTIA IT & Entertainment Show in San Francisco today, InfoSpace came up with a pretty fancy party trick.

The Bellevue-based company’s development team set up the search software to help show attendees to find the nearest party.

That can be particularly helpful when there are 10 or more parties on a given night during the three-day cellphone industry show, which officially kicks off tomorrow.

The local-search software is designed to help people with enabled cellular phones to easily find restaurants, movie theaters and other nearby services. If the CTIA-designed use is any indication, it could help the user’s social life, too.

For the record, InfoSpace is throwing a party tomorrow nigh. It will feature food, drinks, and live music by Grammy-award winning artist Ozomatli with special guest appearance by Rihanna.




POSTED 3:23 PM Monday
Direct to consumer

Seattle-based Dwango Wireless, which creates ringtones, graphics and other content for mobile phones, announced today that it has partnered with USA Today to provide a new service.

The service, called Text & Win, is a short message service (SMS) that allows readers to use their mobile phones to participate daily in newspaper polls. As incentive to participate, texters can receive weekly and other prizes.

The service is part of the company’s goal to sell more content directly to the consumer than having to rely solely on the carrier’s storefront, or portal, for distribution.

“Earlier on, 100 percent of our business was on-deck distribution. For the past several months, we’ve tried to aggressively augment that with off-deck campaigns, not only USA Today, but with other partners as well,” said Alexander Conrad, Dwango’s president and chief operating officer and interim CEO.

Conrad said off-portal sales are more popular now for two reasons: The carriers lowered the barriers to doing off-portal sales and mobile subscribers are smarter.

He said he thinks carriers are more open to distribution that occurs outside of their “walled garden” – content that the carriers themselves pretty much control. “I think the industry has changed,” he said.




POSTED 3:23 PM Monday
Tale of two cities

After saying on Friday that it would relocate its headquarters from Bellevue to San Francisco, Mforma announced today that it secured a relationship with Cingular Wireless to sell its Billboard Mobile application.

The application helps cellphone users buy ringtones and find music news and local concert information.

The timing of the two announcements are a bit ironic. Although clearly tied to the opening of the CTIA IT & Entertainment Show in San Francisco, it was probably Mforma’s Bellevue office that secured the sale to Cingular Wireless, which still has a large presence in Redmond after acquiring AT&T Wireless a year ago.

The Bellevue office at least played a role in the deal, given that Mforma’s Cingular account person works there.

But a spokeswoman who explained last week why the headquarters was moving, said it was more logistical than strategic. The new chief executive lives in San Francisco, not Bellevue.

Cingular customers can subscribe to Billboard Mobile for $2.99 a month. Ringtones cost between $1.99 and $2.99 each.




POSTED 3:23 PM Monday
Hello, MO

And just as Seattle loses a mobile entertainment company headquarters, it gains another.

Vancouver, B.C.-based Mobile Operandi announced today that it has hired Bill Bryant as CEO and will move its headquarters to Seattle this fall. Bryant previously founded Seattle companies Qpass and Netbot.

Mobile operandi has developed a social networking platform for mobile phones called mophone. The software lets members easily find and legally share content, including photos, ringtones, wallpapers, messages and games.

“As online social networking continues to soar and wireless users surpass 2 billion worldwide, mophone is well positioned to ignite a movement toward mobile communities,” Bryant said.

By the end of the year, mophone expects to support 400 handsets and be available to users worldwide. Membership is free.

The public beta version of mophone 1.0 is set to be unveiled tomorrow. Commercial availability is expected to be follow later this fall.