ORLANDO, Fla. — On the last day of the CTIA show, what seemed like every attendee stood in line for about an hour to get a seat to hear George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, the 41st and 42nd presidents.
The standard practice at CTIA is to have a panel discussion by carrier CEOs on the final day, which never seems to draw a big crowd. Today, the room was packed with people sitting in the aisles.
Security was tigh,t with photographers required to drop off their equipment at 6:30 in the morning for inspection and not pick it back up until 9.
The presidents teased each other, and discussed how the wireless industry was affecting their lives and the world.
Bush said people call him and Clinton the “odd couple,” and he asked Clinton what are you doing with that right-wing nut Bush?
Bush’s serious answer was that they wanted to come together for Katrina and tsunami efforts — to get something out of life that’s bigger than politics.
Bush talked about how he was hooked on his BlackBerry. When he’s at a Houston Astros baseball game, he enjoys getting e-mails from friends saying that they can see him on TV. He gets kicks by replying that he’ll wave after the next strike.
“When you are 83, you’ll do the same thing,” he said.
Clinton stressed how wireless could unite the world and show people their commonalities rather than their “destructive personalities.” He warned the wireless industry if it isn’t careful it could empower terriorists to plot terrible events.
“You should be proud to be a part of an industry that is bringing people together that could otherwise be pulled apart by destructive pesonalitie,” he said.
Irnonic how things change. I recall when Bush was just leaving office that he was blown away by grocery scanning technology on a media trip to a supermarket. And today he’s using a BlackBerry and knows how to use a computer to reply to e-mails — even changing the font color to add emphasis to what he is saying.