Says one attendee: "They don't really have it quite down yet, ready to get out, I'm not incredibly surprised they're not here."
But iPhone is casting a deep, long shadow across this entire show. Still two months away, analysts say Apple will be an instant juggernaut when it hits store shelves in June. Bear Stearns immediately predicted an additional $6 billion in revenue, and up to 70 cents a share in profits. And in an industry beset by cutthroat competition, already taking its toll on big-time companies like Motorola , and its recent announcement of a billion-dollar revenue shortfall, and Palm's huge year-over-year profit plunge, Apple's potential numbers are even more significant.
"It's gonna have some success because people love their iPods, absolutely love them. So it's gonna have some success, no doubt about it."
But Apple isn't here. The company tends to shy away from "industry" events. Remember that it unveiled iPhone at Macworld DURING the massive Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas in January. And this may be just the way Steve Jobs wants it. Keep 'em quakin,' even in his absence.
And it's a strategy that's working. Companies here aren't simply unveiling very cool phones: They're unveiling their answer to iPhone. It comes up over and over again. LG , Sony Ericsson , Samsung, Helio.
"This is the world's first dual slide. Slide one way to make a phone call. Slide the other way when you want to text," says Sky Dayton as he demos his latest communicator dubbed the "Ocean." He calls it the ultimate social-networking device.
Some of these are amazing little gadgets that carry price-tags far smaller than iPhone's. More on these specific phones, including our one-on-one interviews with Helio's Sky Dayton and Sony-Ericsson's Miles Flint in an upcoming post. We'll also be featuring short video vignettes of these devices so you can get a better idea of what they look like and how they work.
These companies will need every edge they can get. And judging by these innovations unveiled this week, they just might have them. Says Sony-Ericsson's Flint: "We fear no one. It's going to be good for the segment as a whole that more people are coming in."
Questions? Comments? TechCheck@cnbc.com