Ina Fried

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Interview: CTIA Boss Steve Largent Aims To Keep Conference From Being Lost in the Shuffle

While the U.S. mobile industry is thriving, its annual trade show has struggled to stand out.

Coming on the heels of both January’s Consumer Electronics Show and February’s Mobile World Congress, the CTIA event in March had become something of a rehash of products announced at those earlier events.

In response, the show’s producers have pushed this year’s event back to May, a move aimed at creating some separation from the other conferences.

“We were told by a lot of people ‘I’m out of breath,'” CTIA chief Steve Largent told AllThingsD. “We heard that. We listened.”

This year’s event takes place next week in New Orleans, at the end of that city’s popular jazz festival.

By changing the timing, CTIA is also hoping that some companies may be ready to announce products due to ship by the back-to-school shopping season.

“I would say the verdict is not in yet but all the indications are it is a good move,” Largent said.

It seems some companies aren’t waiting for CTIA to make announcements.

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, for example, is announcing news at its own developer conference this week, while Samsung is using a May 3 event in London to announce its next flagship Galaxy device.

Some device makers and carriers have said to expect noteworthy announcements at the show, while others are planning just meetings and social gatherings at the event.

As for formal events, the highlight is likely to be a panel on Tuesday afternoon featuring top executives from the four major U.S. carriers. CNBC’s Jim Cramer is set to moderate that. The conference wraps up on Thursday with a speech from former President Bill Clinton.

Last year’s show, in Orlando, was dominated by the news announced on the eve of the event that AT&T was planning to buy T-Mobile in a blockbuster $39 billion deal.


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