It’s quickly apparent from the early announcements and from the sights on the show floor what are the prominent news themes of the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, industry’s biggest trade show. In previous years, such trends included the deluge of tablets or the influx of touch-screen-based smartphones. The show has also been home to some of the first glimpses of HDTVs and interesting new computer concepts.
But this year, a host of trends are taking hold.It seems that going into CES, several prominent companies had similar ideas in mind for what they should try to accomplish this year, and their engineers developed products that, by the look of things, only build upon those that came before them. So by and large the show is filled with products that aren’t all that revolutionary. And that is making some people wonder if this year CES is really worth paying much attention to.
Inevitably, that decision is best left to those on the sidelines waiting to see what kind of news comes out. But for those who want to get an overview of the major trends already emerging from the show, take a first look at some of the top trends emerging so far at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show:
1. The big companies don’t care
As Microsoft showed at its CES keynote on Jan. 9, it really doesn’t care much about the show any longer. Its decision to no longer attend the event after this year only further supports that argument. But Microsoft isn’t alone. Some of the top companies in the world, including Sony and Samsung, haven’t made CES their top priority this year. Sure, they’ve announced some new things, but in many cases, they’ve decided to hold back their top announcements for a later time. It appears big companies just don’t care as much about CES.
2. Bigger and better HDTVs are everywhere
If there is one thing that’s very obvious on the CES show floor it’s HDTVs. From Sony to Samsung to LG, just about every TV vendor is showing off some neat new products. They include features like 4K resolution, ultra-wide-screen viewing and OLED screens. HDTVs might just steal the CES show this year.
3. Voice recognition is a must-have
When LG unveiled its new HDTVs at CES on Jan. 9, the company also discussed the integration of voice recognition with those sets. But LG isn’t alone. Countless companies have been showing off products that feature voice recognition in some form. Is a Siri-like experience going to find its way into more product categories this year? It certainly seems so.
4. Ultrabooks galore
Ultrabooks are everywhere at CES. The lightweight, thin notebooks are currently on display from HP, Acer and many other companies. They underscore where the PC market is headed this year. The only question now is, will ultrabooks ultimately be successful?
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5. Flagship smartphones are gunning for Apple
It’s no secret smartphone vendors want to take Apple’s iPhone down. But at CES this year, LG, Samsung and others have made that abundantly clear by showing off top-of-the-line smartphones to take on the iPhone. The best part is devices like LG’s Spectrum will retail for just $199, putting them at the same price as Apple’s iPhone 4S.
6. Google TV is having a surprising resurgence
It wasn’t long ago that people were wondering just how much longer Google TV would last before Google threw in the towel and discontinued it.At this year’s CES, however, the technology has made a significant comeback, showing up in everything from televisions to set-top boxes. Watch out for Google TV in 2012. It could actually develop into a major player in the home entertainment space.
7. The multiscreen push
With Sony’s decision to take over Sony Ericsson, the company now has achieved its long-sought-after goal: the ability to provide services and products that target any device with a screen. From HDTVs to smartphones to video game consoles, Sony has the unique ability to provide services to the many consumers using all those devices. But Sony isn’t alone. Countless companies at CES are following a multiscreen strategy to try to lock customers in who have multiple products. It seems 2012 could be an important year for targeting folks with multiple devices.
8. No new product categories
Aside from ultrabooks,CES has so far not been home to new product categories. Some observers might claim this CES is all about the appearance of ultrabooks in large numbers, but Intel introduced the ultrabook concept in the middle of 2011. In the past, we’ve seen tablets and netbooks unveiled at CES. But this year, vendors appear focused on improving current device concepts and not trying to veer too far from that. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, of course, but it might indicate a general decline in innovation across the industry.
9. Iterative updates abound
Following on that general lack of innovation, it appears the vast majority of companies this year are willing to only offer iterative updates to their products, rather than revolutionary improvements. Each product category-from HDTVs to smartphones-has improved in lockstep. Meanwhile, consumers who are hoping to see revolutionary updates will be disappointed by what they find in this year’s products.
10. 3D, 3D, 3D
There’s no escaping 3D at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show. Just about every major company is bundling 3D features into their televisions, smartphones, tablets and other visual products. Oddly, consumers have so far not embraced 3D as much as the companies would like. But that’s not stopping vendors from bundling the technology in their many devices.