CES 2012 Impressions
The Grand Slam of electronic gadgets brought back the faithful to the sin city of Las Vegas to indulge in the future of electronics, gadgets, and consumer behavior. This note summarizes my observations from the CES show.
Pass the baton – CES is turning into a wireless show. With Microsoft no longer leading the keynotes in future editions, my vote will be for Qualcomm’s Paul Jacobs who gave a fun and eloquent keynote himself to occupy the opening keynote next year.
Connected Everything – Our theme for last year’s Mobile Future Forward was “Connected Universe, Unlimited Opportunities.” It was one of the central themes of this year’s CES (and is likely to be for many more years). From health monitors to Sony Vita, from treadmills to autos, connectivity is driving new features, behavior, and hopefully consumer demand.
Gesturize Everything – Touch is for oldies, gesture (wave and voice) is driving the new interactions. If you thought talking to machines was weird, well! get used to it. Starting with TVs, autos, gaming devices, and PCs, gesture based computing is invading the internals of electronic devices everywhere.
Microsoft/Nokia resurgence? – Nokia’s Elop was everywhere to help introduce the windows devices in North America. AT&T could do to Windows devices what Verizon did to Android – give it a boost that is. While the OS is fresh and elegant, the consumer interest has been tepid. Though there are a number of things that could go wrong with pricing, execution, and marketing, at least they have some operator allies in the North American market this time around.
1K is so yesterday, 4K/8K is in – TV manufacturers touted higher resolution 4k/8k displays. Never mind the content in new formats won’t be available for months. However, the displays are getting sharper with exquisite clarity. It is a great time to be a consumer.
Live Mobile TV, No it is not dead yet – I have been a believer in broadcast mobile video. Dyle could succeed where Mediaflo failed; it just needs to get the top tier operators behind the endeavor.
Waterproof is the new black – It seemed like the OEMs have been reading from research that consumers are not aware off. They either expect us to start using the tablets and phones in shower or start colonizing oceans in search of greener pastures. Almost all OEMs had their devices in “hold-your-nose-and-dip-in-water” mode.
Chinese are coming – Pretty soon “Made in China” will also mean conceptualized and designed in China. The Japanese and Korean gizmo manufacturers should be bracing for a tough slug in the months ahead. Chinese brands are starting to make an impact on the show floor, often a precursor to the impression on the global marketplace.
You say MacBook Air Imitators, I say Ultrabooks – Intel and partners were out in full force to demonstrate that sleek designs can go hand-in-hand with windows as well. It is not a substantially new category, will just eat the share from notebooks.
Intel’s entry into smartphones – Will they, won’t they? The question of when will Intel be a player in the mobile space has been out there for a while. Intel’s partnership with Motorola + the OS partnership with Samsung is its attempt to alter the mobile ecosystem. While our Predictions Panel gave man finding water on Mars a higher probability than a new mobile ecosystem emerging, Intel might be one to watch.
3D Printers – Having a birthday party, no problem! Something new and cool, now you can print kids’ toys right from your desk. It will set you back $1300 but you will be the geekiest dad on the block.
Phablets – Getting tired of phones? tablets? How about Phablets with your morning tea sir? Samsung’s Note is trying to convince customers that hybrid is all they need for making phone calls or drawing a portrait for an art gallery. OEMs are launching devices for every inch in the range of 4” to 12” and see what sticks.
Tablet Bloodbath – There were so many tablet launches at CES that it is hard to keep track of them. One thing most of them had in common – no pricing, no launch dates which is generally a precursor to their trip to the graveyard of electronics.
Home Energy Networking – If your home lights are starting to flicker without any sane reason, there is a good chance that someone has gotten a hold of your WiFi router which controls your house’s electric outlets via adaptors that are about to flood the market. Other devices for the home like kitchen tablets etc. have also started pouring in.
AT&T Developer Summit – The mobile developer summit was very well executed, full with announcements (how about free unlimited API access for one year), buzz, and gravitas. Google would have been proud.
The ghost of Apple – As usual, the ghost’s presence was felt at the show (including some execs in human flesh).
Coolest demo – For me it was Samsung’s transparent window. Gives a new meaning to window shopping.
Coolest toy – My vote goes to Parrot’s AR.Drone. Will set you back $300 but will make you the neighborhood ninja. What was missing was a drone that can carry humans so they don’t have to walk 50,000 CES miles in one day.
Coolest booth – Auto industry can teach a thing or two about stacking up the booths. Audi with its blindingly fluorescent lights and futuristic concept cars was quite impressive with Mercedes Benz a close second. LG with its massive 3D TV wall was also quite impressive.
CES Star of the Show – Samsung with its omnipresence dominating virtually every important CE category has to be the most dominating player in the industry. Of course, Apple gives its Korean counterpart run for its money but Samsung made its presence felt with a slew of devices, future vision, and an integrated view of the world.