Ina Fried

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Little-Known Phone Brands Hope to Make a Name for Themselves in Vegas

With the big-name phone makers unlikely to announce much at this week’s CTIA show in Las Vegas, a bunch of lesser-known brands are hoping they can grab a moment or two in the spotlight.

Kyocera ice bar 2

On the show floor and through various events, parties and meeting rooms, are companies such as Kyocera, Alcatel One Touch and Coolpad.

The CTIA show has traditionally taken a back seat to events like CES and Mobile World Congress, but this year’s show is expected to be particularly short of announcements from the biggest names in wireless.

Smaller names are eager to fill the void. Alcatel One Touch, for example, is trying to position itself as a key player for carriers looking to offer high-end smartphone features at entry-level prices.

“They need choices,” said Steve Cistulli, who left Samsung earlier this year to become senior VP of North America for Alcatel One Touch. “Currently, their top two choices are quite expensive.”

That said, Alcatel now has to battle bigger names as well as negative reviews for its early product work.

Meanwhile, Kyocera took to the frosty Minus5 ice bar at the Mandalay Bay casino and resort to introduce their latest waterproof phones.

There, the company showed off two new phones in the Hydro line, one headed for Sprint and Boost Mobile and the other destined for U.S. Cellular.

Caterpillar, meanwhile, is well known for heavy equipment, but not so much for phones. The company is hoping to change that with a partnership with Bullitt Mobile to make a rugged Android phone with the Cat brand.

And these are but a few of the not-yet-household-names looking to grab a slice of the fast growing — and increasingly competitive — smartphone market.

As for the big-name players, only Verizon Wireless is promising significant news. The company has scheduled a press conference for Wednesday with COO Marni Walden. But don’t expect to hear about some snazzy new device; the focus will be on the company’s efforts to reach new segments of the market.

That said, all the top carriers and hardware vendors are here (except Apple), so we’ll be sniffing around the various parties and gatherings to see if we can’t dig up some interesting stuff. (Tips are also welcome.)

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