After a few years with a weak pulse, the energy, enthusiasm and crowds were back in force at CES in Las Vegas with estimates of around 140,000 attendees.
Apple does not exhibit at the show but its influence on the industry was clearly seen in the product design and functionality of some the most interesting mobile products. These included advanced smartphones or “superphones” announced by Motorola, HTC, Samsung, LG and many others.
These superphone come feature packed with dual core processors, large amounts of ram and storage, an HTML5 browser, and support for HD video, micro HMDI out, front and rear cameras, and video chat capabilities. Along with better data security encryption some even require finger print recognition to unlock the device. 3D on the phone is not too far away and may end up being much more successful than on TV screens.
Some of the current “Superphones” and others coming out over the next couple of year can function as extremely powerful computers that you carry around in your pocket. Combined with secure file storage in the cloud, fast mobile bandwidth via 4G plus the ability to dock into peripherals such as keyboard and displays theses phones have the potential to replace many laptops.
The message being delivered at this year’s CES is that, over the next couple of years, mobile devices will totally exceed your expectations.
There were dozens of tablet announcements and lots of prototype demonstrations that focused more on technical specifications than the overall user experience plus the amount of developer support that would be at launch to support the hardware.
One of the issues of having an annual event such as CES is that companies are forced to work to the organizers timetable rather than their own. This results in products often being demonstrated that are not quite ready for prime time. Some companies such as HP decided to hold off and will showcase the PalmPad on February 9th at their own event.
A lot of the tablet attention at CES focused on Motorola Xoom’s one of the first tablets with a 10” screen that will ship with Android 3 (Honeycomb) the first version of the OS designed for tablets, and also on RIM’s Blackberry Playbook that has a 7”screen and is expected to do well with corporations.
However, one got the sense that everyone was holding back a fair amount of information while waiting for the details of Apple’s iPad 2 which is rumored to be announced around 1st February with shipment early April. When asked about pricing, the answer was always “it will be very competitive”. A year after the iPad was announced there appears to be some competition on the horizon although too many of the tablets are chasing features rather than focusing on the totality of the user experience.
The implications for the media industry are enormous. A very large number of people are going to be consuming a lot of content on mobile devices either through a mobile browser or via apps.
Theses devices will be as powerful as many laptops and will be able to receive and display rich media content such as HD video. Static content such as e-editions and digital replicas will start to phase out as the media industry shifts to delivering more dynamic, rich interactive content.
The ability to share and receive content over social networks also needs to be a core feature of mobile content. Today 50% of all active Twitter users are using mobile devices to share and receive information. You don’t have to be constantly monitoring your social network. Applications such as Flipboard make it easy to organize Twitter and Facebook content in a digital magazine style for easy reading when every you want. Facebook “likes” and other sharing mechanisms are driving as much traffic as search. With the CEO of Flipboard now on the board of Twitter, expect to see a very close alignment of these organizations. As the CEO of Twitter, Dick Costolo noted at CES – “Twitter is a technology company in the media business”
With the ongoing convergence of the computer, consumer electronics and wireless industries 2011 is being viewed, as a major inflection point for the mobile devices industry. The often-predicted evolution of the Personal Computer era into one of Personal Communications appears to be finally here.