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A Great Way to Start Fresh

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Category: Andy Marken's blog Published on Saturday, 16 January 2010

  CES 2010 – Look Good, Act Assured, Play Loud

CES Cathedral – The industry’s giants come to Vegas weeks ahead to set up their pavilions (way beyond ordinary booths).  All the glitz, glamour designed to sell.  Source -- Samsung

 

CES is like Cherry Blossom time in Japan or on the Potomac.

 

Or Mel Brooks Springtime for Hitler!

Just a great way to start fresh and see if the industry can get it right…this time.

 

Before Shapiro could open the festivities, Google’s Schmidt decided he’d pull a Steve and take the wind out of Shapiro’s CES sails with his Nexus One unveiling.

 

 

Hail Mary – Google’s Eric Schmidt may have said a quick prayer before the introduction of the Nexus One smartphone, but a little planning and focus on the organization’s customer service, customer support might have been of more assistance.  Or, he could have studied Jobs more closely while he was on the Apple board. 

 

Lousy start to the new year

 

The dozens who snapped up their Google Android unit from the company site are now wondering if they maybe should have visited a carrier first.  

 

Who knew customers actually wanted service and support?

 

Most of the Google folks have no problem with their unit…works flawlessly

 

 

 

Excellent Coaster – Early Nexus One customers who paid a premium for their Android smartphone found being first in line isn’t always a good thing.  Many have a hefty exit penalty or excellent coaster…your call.

 

But then, CES didn’t bother Steve. 

 

He was busy polishing his unveiling for his poorly kept secret after the show’s dust settled.

 

What were the hot subjects at what Shapiro called The Greatest Show on Earth!! (O.K., a little over the top but…)?

 

The usual: 

-         Smartphones

-         eReaders, tablets

-         3DTV

-         Content everywhere

-         Storage

 

Hide Your POT

Half the portable devices sold/used are what we call POTs (plain old telephones). No one holds a press conference to introduce one though

 

Today, it’s all about showing off your smarts.

 

Everyone wants to outdo the dudes, dudettes at One Infinity Circle. 

 

Everyone knows all those iTems are a really big deal for Apple. 

 

The iPhone is so popular among the techie trendsetters who crawl the aisles, press “events” and back alleys that AT&T had trouble keeping up with the traffic load. 

 

Naturally…

 

All those texting, surfing, emailing, photo sharing devices were at PC/CE/comm ground zero --  Vegas

 

They were pushing the pipes to the max!

 

Verizon said they weren’t having any service problems (translation – no one was using their phones!).

 

Google’s non-event didn’t slow anyone down.  Everyone showed off their killer you do-everything unit(s) –  surf the web, watch TV, play music, text, send/receive emails, read the news, get directions, follow your winnings

 

Aahh…make a phone call?

 

Since you can only get into the Apple app store with an iUnit or secret handshake..Everyone announced their own app store !!!

 

But even smartphones are old hat.

 

Players are upping the stakes for the units with a new classification – smartbooks.

 

That will put a tremendous squeeze on ereaders, tablets … and netbooks. 

 

Tough to believe that the world suddenly wants to read again, but everyone is bringing out their version of an ereader. 

 

Kindle and Sony may be doing well, but there is no way everyone can survive in the overcrowded market.

 

Sure, maybe Steve will do okay, but he’ll charge the Apple halo and announce his new $1.99 iBookstore (kidding…right?)

 

Lenovo had a good first effort start at CES with their tablet/notebook/netbook.

 

Next Gen Systems – With what seemed like everyone rolling out an ereader and/or tablet system, Lenovo borrowed from the past and the present by introducing a combination tablet/notebook.  Still needs work (IMO) but it may meet the needs of many.  Source -- Lenovo

 

Sorta, kinda reminds us of the old HP flip notebook (or whatever they called it). 

 

It is a good ARM-based ereader/tablet when you pop out the screen.  But it’s an underpowered notebook and an overpriced netbook. Won’t take long, better solutions will be here.

 

TV Plus

TV set manufacturers liked the feeling of record sales this past year (we didn’t say profit) because of high-def conversion and they’re determined to keep the train going.

 

There’s plenty of room in the U.S.:

-         about 115M homes have one TV

-         48M have HD capable sets

-         16.7% of households only own one TV

 

Get the picture? 

 

If HD doesn’t get your credit card out, then we’ll try new things:

-         3D TV

-         Skype

-         IPTV (or iTV)


 

Entertainment Threesome – The convention center’s aisles and halls were filled with the sights and sounds of the next great entertainment solutions.  3D TV, TV Skype, iNetTV and screens of every shape, size, price were being unveiled.  And the winners?  Wait till CES 2011. 

 

Heck, they’ll even make folks feel they’re depriving their family with only one or two sets.

 

3D TV is promising; and if you ask Panasonic, Samsung, LG or Nvidia, it’s ready for prime time!

 

But, it requires:

-         a new set (naturally) that won’t be economic for a couple of years

-         a new BD player

-         active glasses ($100 - $200 per) – non-glasses sets will be available about the time you’ve paid off your 1st unit loan (3-4 years)

-         a steady stream of “gotta watch” content – O.K., soccer, football may be good reason

-         some assurance the cable guy isn’t going to charge a premium on top of his premium rate

 

Skype on TV?

 

It may be kinda nice but:

-         Is it a reason to buy a new TV?

-         Are you willing to buy special camera, added set up, special connections?

-         Really want to see friends and relatives on your big screen HD set?

 

But Internet TV does sound like a helluva option, especially with:

-         all the free content being uploaded

-         freedom from cable bundles and rising monthly costs

-         increased availability for VOD (video on demand) per usage charges

-         greater long tail choices of video options to learn, entertain, educate, whatever

 

The new sets, connectivity options and the flexibility of when you watch makes the iTV and Roku box look darn good !!!

 

On the Road Again

The auto industry has figured out that the best way to get us in and keep us in our cars is by adding a robust computing/entertainment package.

 

 

On the Road Again – Auto manufacturers have slowly begun to view CES as one of their biggest opportunities to promote their technologies, their leadership.  This year was no exception with all the majors showing their integrated computing, communications, entertainment, monitoring/management systems.  So sexy you don’t want to take your eyes off them.

 

At CES (and the Detroit Auto Show that followed), they showed us the future. 

 

Granted, we can’t even dial a phone number on our Bluetooth system but they’re planning to give us a cockpit that will be without equal.

 

Safety folks screamed bloody murder.

 

We eventually realized that the new PC/CE cars aren’t being targeted at us (oh yeah, they want us to buy one!)

 

Nor our kids.

 

It’s the kids kids. 

 

Two – 10-year-olds have all this technology as a natural part of their lives.  The rest of us have to unlearn our past and learn what’s new/now.

 

Dialing a phone while driving is beyond our skill set.  Texting is a real challenge for a touch typist. The kids pick these things up and use them because they’re second nature. 

 

The kids’ kids will be light years ahead of us

 

They’ll use a smartphone 10 ways from Sunday because it is their first computer. 

 

They read naturally with the screen because it is their book.

 

By the time they’re driving, the screens and technologies will be better and they’ll be able to scan the set-up and know what’s going on, where, how and have a virtual world view. 

 

Makes us feel retarded and our kids aren’t far behind in this race!

 

Back at Home

But we did see stuff that ordinary folks can use…today.

 

D-Link and Netgear led the way with outstanding in-home content solutions that let you stream audio/video anywhere in the house with Wi-Fi or Ethernet. 

 

Entertainment Everywhere – D-Link introduced a sleek wireless entertainment solution for the home that will supposedly manage all of your content – audio, video, photo – and send it throughout the house for you to enjoy.  In addition, the company plans Wi-Fi additions for security, management, monitoring and more. Source – D-Link

 

In addition, they’re setting the stage for a more complete home management solution with security and home/energy management capabilities.

 

What we like from both firms is that it isn’t a box that you have to add another box and another box onto but you can pretty easily, pretty economically add features, capabilities at a modest incremental cost.

 

Cool!!!

 

Easier Buckets

While folks devote huge booths and massive press events to all the content devices, places to store all the stuff slips below the radar.

 

As a lady editorial friend said over at the Storage Visions show, “At the end of the day, it’s just a drive – hard, flash, optical – and today, they’re all pretty good…pretty reliable…pretty cheap.”

 

Really hate it when she’s right.

 

But she’s also wrong. 

 

What’s inside the cases may be pretty similar but that’s where it ends.

 

The big difference is:

-         cosmetic look/feel (hey that stuff sells stuff– ask the guy who introed Roxxy at the “other show” in town)

-         software, security

-         company’s service, support (this is huge, just cruise the forums)

 

Storage in a Wireless World – Imation seems to be one of the first storage companies to wed Wi-Fi connectivity and high-capacity storage in a single home storage solution.  If the 2TB bit buckets are as easy to set up, manage and use as most wireless  products, they could enjoy brisk sales.  Source -- Imation

 

One unit we did see that was different – at least to us – was Imation’s Wi-Fi storage device.

 

Outta the gate, it “feels” a little pricey for 2TB unit; but man the combination of 802.1n speed and the ability to centralize and easily access stuff from anywhere in the house (through your Wi-Fi home entertainment network) could be a welcome addition.

 

Home is where the heart is.  Increasingly, it’s the place you want all your content (and information).

 

Sure beats being parked somewhere in Google’s cloud!

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