@ CTIA: Remembering Your First CTIA

imageSometimes you can get a bit jaded when you have a lot of history with something. CTIA is one of those things. This year, marked my 10th attendance at the conference. My first was in the Fall 2004. On the first day, Cingular Wireless completed the billion-dollar acquisition of AT&T (NYSE: T) Wireless and I never left the press room. Since then, there have been many more shows. Memories include keynotes from Puff Daddy and special appearances by Paris Hilton, and parties that featured stars, like Ludacris. But this year, it had none of that flash and attendance was undoubtedly below historic levels. Despite that, you can still find someone who is experiencing CTIA for the first time, and appreciates the novelty of it all. That person for me was Bhaskar Roy, co-founder of Qik, which is developing a live-mobile streaming company.

Ironically, it was only last September in which I wrote a story about the things I didn’t see at CTIA — and hot startups, like Qik, was one of my prime examples. Roy told me at the time, the bang for the buck and the level of exposure, just wasn’t at CTIA, especially when compared to smaller events. What a difference six months can make. Not only did Roy attend this year in Las Vegas, but he brought six employees. They weren’t planning on it, but in the month leading up to the show, Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT), BlackBerry and Nokia (NYSE: NOK) all asked for them to demonstrate their product in their booths.

The invitation would give the small Redwood City, Calif.-based company prime real estate in the largest wireless conference in North America. He couldn’t say no. “Overall, we are finding the show great. People are liking it [Qik], and we are building strong relationships. Typically, we email and talk on the phone with people from Microsoft and BlackBerry and now we have the opportunity to meet face-to-face.” In startup fashion, Qik even organized a Tweet-up, where he met representatives from carriers, who said they didn’t mind the heavy bandwidth Qik required because it drives data-plan adoption and justifies the build-out of their next-generation network.

To be sure, a invitation by three handset makers to demonstrate in their booth is unusual. But this year, the show is about applications, and therefore companies, like Qik, had to be here. For instance, BlackBerry launched the App World this week, in which Qik is one of the free applications available. Likewise, Qik was chosen to receive prominent placing on Nokia