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Posted at 1:55 PM ET, 01/10/2011

Five tech trends to watch post-CES

By Rob Pegoraro

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?

By Rob Pegoraro  | January 10, 2011; 1:55 PM ET
Categories:  CES 2011  
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I predict increased security problems as many of the manufacturers who are now trying to connect their devices to either the web or smartphones are paying inadequate attention to security and app stores that allow anyone to put up an app without adequate review are already being used by hackers. The New York Times did an excellent story on this a couple weeks ago that you can find here

Posted by: zippoz | January 10, 2011 3:20 PM | Report abuse

This is a great article! I wrote an article very similar to this about the highlights of CES 2011. Please check it out and don't hesitate to tell others about my site if you like it. Thank you so much!

Posted by: wanton777 | January 10, 2011 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Maybe not a trend, but I believe the biggest issue in tech will be powering these devices. As you noted during CES, keeping your stuff charged is a constant hassle.

It would also help if devices were more accurate in their power meters. Yesterday I was out hiking and was alarmed when a) I had to cut my hike short and get picked up early b) my cell phone battery meter dropped from 50% to 15% to 5% in minutes. Fortunately the battery did hold and when I was picked up and charged the phone, the meter went up to 60% in about 10 seconds. Eh?

Posted by: slar | January 10, 2011 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Not a trend so much, but a plea to the industry: Please stop resting on your bottom line and tweaking 30-year old display technology and get moving on foldable displays. Oh, and one more thing: battery technology needs top level attention as well. The two together would make a trend more captivating then smartphones.

Posted by: atravnic | January 10, 2011 9:37 PM | Report abuse

Competition is alive and well. There was a serious danger that Apple might have become an 800 pound gorilla that dominated every category it invented. But the split between Eric Schmidt and Steve Jobs a few years ago has turned Google into a terrific rival for Apple.

Even though Microsoft is fading into innovational irrelevance, Apple cannot become the behemoth that Microsoft once was. Google will keep them honest.

That means Apple will stay Apple -- and that's good for everybody.

Posted by: TandemCaptain | January 11, 2011 7:00 AM | Report abuse

4G smartphones might soon become the rage. Just check this article:
And this article explains the best tablet computers launched at CES 2011:

Posted by: ArmandoBSilva | January 11, 2011 8:26 AM | Report abuse

Cell phones with video capability -- wasn't it bad enough when the person in the next stall was making voice calls?

Posted by: dactyl | January 11, 2011 8:28 AM | Report abuse

How could you not mention the Motorola Atrix's potential effects on the tech industry, especially when you brought up your thoughts that "The next networking frontier will be linking smartphones to other devices"??

I think that of all the gadgets to come out of the CES, the Atrix represents perhaps the future of mobile, or even all, computing (perhaps outside the most computing-intensive tasks, for now). Being able to simply take your actual computer in your pocket everywhere you go and hook it up to a spare monitor-keyboard-mouse combo, or ponying up for a laptop shell is MUCH more convenient than lugging a phone and a laptop together, or simply just a phone, which is impractical to use for most office activities. Screw tablets, this makes them irrelevant.

Posted by: crzytwnman | January 11, 2011 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for your good article. I'm you fan. Please keep write the good for us..

Posted by: katenie | January 11, 2011 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Smart energy seemed to be a trend at this year's CES. It will be interesting to see how this will play out over the year.

Posted by: lukewatt | January 11, 2011 1:50 PM | Report abuse

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