CTIA 2014: 5 things to be excited about

Next week the mobile technology industry will converge on Las Vegas for three days of smartphone, wearable, carrier and automotive hoopla.

Along with thousands of companies unveiling new technology and devices, at CTIA 2014 we'll hear from some of the leaders in the space, including Stephen Elop, EVP of Microsoft's Devices Group, Ralph de la Vega, President & CEO of AT&T's Mobile and Business Solutions group and Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP.

No gambling will be involved (so I've told my wife).

The show promises to be groundbreaking if for no other reason than Apple will be announcing a new iPhone and smartwatch on September 9, the same day CTIA commences, which should make for some excellent chatter along the packed corridors of the Sands Expo & Convention Center. Here are the five most important stories to look for next week when the show begins:

1. Apple love (and envy)

As Apple unveils the iPhone 6 back in Cupertino, we're likely to hear from its competitors at CTIA. Whether Apple rivals will be trying to steal the spotlight by introducing their own new hardware, or attempting to join forces with Apple by helping to create new software, the theme of (at least) the show's first day will be Apple, Apple, Apple.

In July, Apple and IBM announced a major partnership designed to help businesses leverage IBM data and analytics tools. The partnership was a watershed moment for enterprise mobility. Look for similar announcements to be made during CTIA, especially if Apple announces an iWatch. The rumored device could open up a slew of possibilities for consumer app makers, as well as businesses looking to capitalize on wearables. As we've already reported, organizations are doing incredible things with wearable tech these days.

2. AT&T wants to own connected cars

Last week, AT&T announced it had combined its Mobility unit with its Business Solutions Group. The move lets AT&T focus on expanding and refining its enterprise mobility business, which accounts for more than 50% of AT&T's wireless revenue. What it also does is empower Ralph de la Vega who has been promoted to CEO of the Mobile and Business Solutions unit to continue his work partnering with auto manufacturers like GM to expand AT&T's connected cars business.

De la Vega has also been openly combative in trying to poach Verizon and T-Mobile subscribers by offering wild promotions, such as a $200 discount on an iPad if consumers sign two-year iPad data plans and buy a new fully-priced iPhone.

AT&T will take center stage on September 10 as de la Vega and AT&T Mobility CEO Glenn Lurie deliver the day's keynote address. Look for a major automotive announcement as well as a tempting incentive to switch carriers.

3. Twitter tries to best Facebook at mobile

Seventy-five percent of Twitter's 271 million active monthly users are using the social network on a mobile device. This represents an awesome opportunity for the company to start making big bucks within its mobile app. Twitter has gone out of its way recently to monetize mobile without ruining your viewing experience. For example: In June, Twitter introduced mobile app promotions that enabled users to click on links that take them directly from within the Twitter app to the Google Play and iTunes App stores.

Twitter also acquired mobile advertising startup TapCommerce for just under $100 million (around £58 million, AU$105 million) in order to beef up its mobile retargeting and re-engagement advertising. Twitter then went ahead and improved direct messaging on mobile devices by enabling users to see their entire history on mobile phones, rather than just the last few conversations.

All this while Facebook recently enraged everyone by forcing mobile users to install its standalone Messenger app, which also happens to be wildly intrusive. Look for Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, who will be speaking on September 9, to reveal new Twitter mobile features, as well as thumb his nose at Mark Zuckerberg's recent mobile follies.

4. One Microsoft, so many devices

When Elop speaks on September 9, he could make a slew of announcements. Will Microsoft forgo an announcement at IFA 2014 to debut the Nokia Lumia 730 and the Nokia Lumia 830, which have recently leaked? Will SmartGlass get an additional reboot after last week's news that Xbox One owners could begin remotely recording game clips? Will a new Surface tablet hit stores in October with a roomier display and built-in 4G? Maybe it will launch a TV-casting dongle to compete with Chromecast, as a recent FCC filing suggests.

Since we're already expecting Windows 9 to launch on September 30, it might be nice to know how tablet and hybrid device users will benefit from a new operating system. Expect at least some of these announcements, but probably not all of them.

5. German software giant SAP takes center stage

Most consumers haven't heard of SAP. The enterprise technology company will likely generate $8 billion in revenue this year and provides back-end software and solutions for much of the technology you likely use at work. Think customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning and big data analytics.

SAP also creates business apps for mobile devices and recently announced a partnership with Microsoft similar to the aforementioned IBM and Apple collaboration. As a result, SAP applications will be available on Microsoft Azure and Excel will be connected to SAP BusinessObjects. SAP will also be creating apps for Windows and Windows Phone 8.1.

An SAP announcement at CTIA probably won't impact your day-to-day interactions with consumer technology. However, if you use a mobile device for your job, SAP CEO Bill McDermott might say something you find interesting when he speaks on the morning of September 10.

  • Get in the tech-show mood with a look at IFA 2014