CTIA Show Continues As Planned

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With mayhem ranging on the east coast, CTIA's Wireless IT show continued as planned here on Tuesday.

Keynotes were peppered with reminders of the tragedy, and talk of the day's events topped any discussions of the wireless market.

Jacob Christfort, the CTO and vice president of product development at Oracle Corp., the day's first keynote speaker, said the apparent terrorist attack reminds people of what is really important in life. That said, he noted that the industry needs to focus more on wireless applications that will serve the nation during a tragedy such as this one.

"We have been so focused on technology there has been very little focus on business applications that can make a difference in our society," he said, in reference to wireless communications that could help field workers dealing with a tragedy such as this one.

Christfort's keynote was interrupted to bring attendees news of events on the east coast, including President Bush's first address.

Meanwhile, in the lobby, attendees where trying to track down coworkers and family members, and some executives even held impromptu conference calls with employees.

Patricia Booth, director of unified communications at Lotus, Cambridge, Mass., said Lotus president and CEO Al Zollar, another morning keynote speaker, was on the phone early this morning receiving an update on the safety of company employees.

"The first thing he did was find out where people were," she said.

She said of particular concern to Lotus were two downed planes from Boston to Los Angeles, since its possible Lotus employees or other attendees of the CTIA show could have been onboard.

Zollar, who has been in San Diego since this weekend, declined to comment.

Mary Starman, lead product manager for mobile devices, was still trying to track down some Microsoft coworkers when the show opened this morning. She said Microsoft's corporate offices in Seattle were open, but busy circuit lines made it impossible to immediately reach that office.

A number of show press conference were cancelled today, including announcements from Qualcomm and SMPP Forum.

CTIA opened on Monday for educational sessions and keynotes; exhibits will open on Wednesday. Because all flights have been suspended, it's currently unknown how many companies will be exhibiting when the show opens tomorrow.

Kimberly Kuo, vice president for communications at CTIA, said show officials are unable to gauge actual attendance numbers, since they don't yet know how many people will show up tomorrow.

She said show officials have increased security and have been meeting regularly with city officials to evaluate the situation. Televisions were brought in this morning to provide up-to-the-minute coverage of events for show attendees.

"We've cancelled all the celebratory aspects of the show to be respectful in light of what's happened," Kuo said.

Kuo, based in Washington, DC, had her own scare today. Her husband works for the White House and was evacuated early this morning. She was able to reach him today via a wireless connection.

"Thank God for cell phones," she said.


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