CES 2011 Product Rollouts: 10 Things We Won't See

News Analysis: Everybody knows that tablets, smartphones, laptops, TVs and mobile gadgets of all kinds will abound when the Consumer Electronics Show opens in Las Vegas on Jan. 6. It's time to look at what won't happen at the event.

The Consumer Electronics Show has become extremely important for the global technology industry. It's no longer just a show for the latest consumer gadgets. It's the place where manufacturers, international media outlets, retail buyers and so many other stakeholders go to find out what the future will look like for the industry over the next year.

Now even enterprise IT managers have to pay attention because a lot of what debuts at the show will soon require corporate support of one kind or another.

As with previous years, this CES-taking place Jan. 6-9 in Las Vegas-will have a theme. CES 2011 will focus most heavily upon tablets. Companies ranging from Toshiba to Motorola and others are expected to show off their iPad competitors. It's certain that Google's Android platform will have a significant role in many of those products. There is also speculation that the show will be home to new 4G smartphones from Verizon, as well as a slew of 3D televisions that companies hope consumers will jump on this year.

But there will also be several things that won't happen at this year's CES. And it's the absence of certain companies and products that are detailed below.

1. Netbooks

If there is any product category that won't make a splash at CES this year, it's netbooks. The lightweight computers were expected to be the next big thing when 2010 started, but a year later, they're being ousted by tablets. In 2011, expect netbooks to be practically eradicated from store shelves as most vendors opt for tablets and lightweight notebooks to replace them.

2. Apple

As is its custom, Apple will not appear at CES this year. That means the company won't be at the Las Vegas show to unveil a new iPad, talk about the Mac App Store launching on Jan. 6 and more. It's unfortunate that one of the top tech companies won't be at the biggest tech event of the year, but that's Apple's way. It won't change its ways for anyone.

3. A Microsoft tablet

When Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer takes the stage at CES on Jan. 5, many believe he will talk about a new version of Windows designed with tablets in mind. At least for now, that seems awfully likely. In any event, Microsoft won't be unveiling a tablet of its own. For one thing, it's not Microsoft's method. It prefers to make the software and rely on vendor partners to develop the hardware. Secondly, it might send the wrong signal, making Microsoft look like an Apple-wannabe. In today's marketplace, that's something that Microsoft isn't keen on doing.

4. A Google tablet

If Microsoft won't be unveiling a tablet of its own, Google won't either. Like Microsoft, Google simply provides the software to vendors and doesn't necessarily want to get into the hardware business. Granted, it has offered Google-branded smartphones, but Google isn't in the business of being Apple in the tablet market. And that won't change any time soon.

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger is a longtime freelance contributor to several technology and business publications. Over his career, Don has written about everything from geek-friendly gadgetry to issues of privacy...