Five tech trends to watch post-CES
I'm home recuperating from CES -- literally, as I picked up a slight cold at the show -- and looking over my notes while I catch up on other business.
The extra column I wrote for Saturday's paper covers some big trends I saw at the show, such as tablets and Internet-connected TVs. Where are these developments likely to lead us over the rest of the year? Allow me to speculate wildly:
- Android has ascended. Google's operating system dominated the mobile devices show on the floor and would have done so, at least numerically, even if Apple had exhibited at CES. The only competing mobile platform to get notable attention was Research In Motion's not-yet-introduced BlackBerry PlayBook; Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 and HP's Palm webOS were afterthoughts.
- Microsoft looks increasingly irrelevant. Even more so than last year at CES, this company has less and less influence on upcoming products. The days when Microsoft could introduce a new software platform and the industry would unite behind it are gone. Chief executive Steve Ballmer didn't help the cause when he opened the show with a disappointing, unambitious keynote that didn't launch any such efforts.
- App stores are everywhere. Now that Apple and Google have shown how simple catalogues of downloadable applications can work on smartphones (and Apple has since extended this concept to Mac OS X), electronics manufacturers are taking the hint. LG, Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp and Toshiba all showed off networked flat-panel TVs and, in some cases, Blu-ray players with app stores for adding new Internet media sources. And I'm sure I missed comparable exhibits from other vendors.
- Video calling is no longer on hold. A front-facing camera for video calling through Skype or Apple's FaceTime is becoming a standard feature on higher-end smartphones and tablets, but Webcams should also become more popular in living room video gear. You may not get the high (but not quite high-def) picture quality I saw in a demo of Cisco's umi system on Wednesday, but you should certainly have a good chance of getting support for Skype or another video-calling service on your next TV, Blu-ray player or Web-media receiver.
- The next networking frontier will be linking smartphones to other devices. Now that phones are evolving so much faster than other gadgets, vendors are letting those devices tap into a smartphone's capabilities. One example: Ford's new AppLink feature for its in-car Sync software, which lets drivers command compatible smartphone apps by voice from behind the wheel. (I was impressed to see a demo unit's speech recognition work in a noisy corner of the convention center.)
Meanwhile, the Consumer Electronics Association explained just why the lines to get anywhere at the show were so long: It estimates that more than 140,000 people attended, a huge increase over last year's 126,641 and close to the record of 143,695 reached in 2007.
What are your predictions for post-CES tech trends in 2011?
| January 10, 2011; 1:55 PM ET
Categories: CES 2011
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