The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has been the starting line for a myriad of technologies over the last forty three years, some of which have, of course, failed to make inroads in the consumer electronics market (My car still doesn’t fly). All the chatter this year seems to be on the fact – the fact – that consumers want tablets and smart phones that will pretty much be their computers. The real battle is over whose tablets/pads/genius-phones will win out in the consumer market.
Cecilia Kang reported in The Washington Post that the first day of the show was filled largely with network providers explaining how their networks were being prepared for the high-speed/high-traffic demands of the soon-to-explode use of pad computers and uber-smart phones:
And to make those gadgets run high-definition streaming videos and online games, mobile service carriers showcased their new high-speed Internet networks. Verizon Communications Chief Executive Ivan Seidenberg launched the convention with a keynote speech outlining his company’s vision to provide faster Internet connections on mobile phones and on the fiber lines that run into its 15 million customers’ homes. Verizon, Sprint Nextel and AT&T are in a race to attract customers for their recently launched high-speed mobile networks.
The heatedalso got aired. Not surprisingly, Verizon executives don’t want ‘government interference’ destroying innovation (From Ms. Kang’s report):
Neil Fried, a house staffer for the Energy and Commerce Committee, said during the Net neutrality panel discussion that the first priority for his committee, which was turned over to Republicans this week, is to overturn the FCC’s rules. Verizon Communications Executive Vice President Tom Tauke said that his firm doesn’t support the agency’s Internet regulations and is studying what it might do in response to the rules. Industry experts are watching whether Verizon or another carrier challenges the FCC decision in courts.
Lord knows ‘government intervention’ with those pesky stoplights, speed limits, and emission standards has all but destroyed the automobile industry. But I digress…
From there, all attention turned to the devices that are hitting the market to take advantage of those speeds. The tablet market is not especially new, but the iPad is the first to be a real success. Now Windows- and Android-running machines are scrambling to inch out the iPad. Rachel Metz, also of The Washington Post, focused on the various iPad challengers at the CES:
Companies tried for years to popularize tablets, but the frenzy began only with the release of the iPad in April. Now companies whose names don’t include the word “Apple” are doing everything they can to differentiate themselves from the tablet front-runner.
They’re adding bells and whistles the iPad doesn’t yet have – such as front and back cameras for video chatting and picture taking and the ability to work over next-generation 4G data networks – in hopes of taking on the iPad, or at least carving out a niche.
If you are in the market for a non-iPad pad,the tech-scape demonstrated in Las Vegas. Apple is likely to release the next generation of iPad in 2011 as well, but Apple’s greatest influence at the CES is precisely that the company is not there – encouraging the many thousands in attendance to wonder what will come out of Cupertino, just over the mountains.