The world went electronics mad from 10 to 13 January, when more than 2,700 technology companies attended the 2011 International CES in Las Vegas.
The show set new records, with 30,000 international attendees and 22 top CEOs making keynote speeches.
Technology trends emerging from the CES show floor included the launch of more than 80 tablets, wireless 4G LTE, connected TV technologies, smart appliances – featured for the first time in the show’s history – and electric vehicles.
The 2011 CES brought top CEOs to the stage including Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer, Samsung’s Boo-Keun Yoon and Cisco’s John Chambers.
So what can we expect from devices in 2011 and beyond? What will be the next big thing in mobile? Here are the highlights from some of the people who were there.
Andrew Morley, VP of international marketing, Motorola Mobility
CES has once again set the scene for the year ahead, with Android tablets and smartphones leading the way for 2011.
Not surprisingly, tablets were a hot topic at CES, with more than 80 announced at the show. Specifically, CES saw the announcement of the first device on Google’s new Android Honeycomb operating system designed from the ground up for tablets – Motorola XOOM. Developed in close collaboration with Google and boasting a 1GHz dual-core processor and 10.1-inch widescreen HD display, the Motorola XOOM is set to deliver a new type of mobile computing experience.
Dual-core Android smartphones take mobile communications to the next level, allowing consumers to use their phones like never before. These next-generation Android handsets wowed at CES with both impressive speed and features such as super-fast gaming and media streaming.
Crucial to the success of these superphones will be consumers’ willingness to replace their laptops, media centres and gaming devices with a single, all-powerful phone offering them new ways to stay connected, informed and entertained at home, at work and anywhere in between.
As consumers increasingly use smartphones as their primary digital screens, Motorola’s new dual-core processor handset ATRIX delivers a new era of mobile computing with Motorola’s webtop application and smart accessories. These enable consumers to enhance the capabilities of their smartphone and simultaneously reduce their need for additional mobile computing screens.
Ben Wood, analyst, CCS Insight
As has been widely reported, CES in Las Vegas could have been rebranded as the Consumer Tablet Show. Before the event, we predicted there would be 60 tablets on show. During the event, the CCS Insight team took photographs of 82 tablets and we believe over 100 were on show.
That said, many of these devices will never ship, being reference designs from no-name manufacturers in Taiwan and China. So what does this mean for tablets in 2011? In a crowded market with a few star products such as the Apple iPad, other manufacturers will experience dramatic downwards pressure on margins before the market has even got started. That is the disappointing conclusion we have reached.
Beyond tablets, other notable trends were 3D, 4G and dual-core processors. 3D is the ‘next big thing’ across the entire consumer electronics industry in 2011. Korean giants Samsung appear to have a leadership position on TVs.
However, its rival LG has some interesting glasses-less technology bubbling under the surface for mobile devices. LG provided some demonstrations of this technology on its stand and I think it is only a matter of time before we see it in real products. If this happens, the challenge will be ensuring that consumers are not disappointed by the experience. The danger is that it could turn out to be little more than a gimmick to differentiate products.
Confusion reigned about so-called 4G at the show. US operator Verizon cut deals with Acer, HTC, LG, Motorola and Samsung to provide the most extensive portfolio of LTE (long-term evolution) devices of any mobile network operator in the world. However, rival network AT&T decided to address this competitive challenge by rebranding the latest evolution of 3G technology (known as HSPA+) as being 4G as well.
Finally, the advent of dual-core processors in mobile phones is a major game-changer. The power of devices such as the LG Optimus 2 and Motorola ATRIX offers computer-like performance on phones. From a retail perspective, expect to see posters in all the leading high street shops promising ‘The Most Powerful Smartphone Ever’!
Scott Hooton, Phones 4u trading director
‘As the leading mobile retailer for the youth market, we’ve always offered only the very latest in mobile technology. As tablets become one of the most innovative pieces of technology to come out of the sector, and with this year being heralded as “the year of the tablet”, it presents both us and our customers with a really exciting opportunity that we will be investing significantly in throughout 2011.
‘We are still in commercial discussions regarding which tablets being unveiled this year we will be ranging, but we have already dedicated a significant amount of merchandising space in store to cater specifically to the range of tablet devices we will be offering customers this year.’
Neil Mawston, analyst, Strategy Analytics
CES 2011 caught tablet fever. Dozens of brands and models were displayed and it was a frequently discussed topic among attendees. Motorola had a surprisingly upbeat show, unveiling the 10-inch XOOM model with Android Honeycomb and generating a buzz about its emerging tablet strategy.
ARM, a component designer based in the UK, caused a ripple as Microsoft announced it will eventually run the Windows Phone 8 OS for ARM-powered tablets. The ARM deal was not good news for rival Intel, and it highlights how the company is less strong in mobile and semi-mobile computing than it would like to be.
CES underlined the tablet’s emergence as an exciting convergence product, attracting a flood of competitors from the industries of fixed, portable and mobile electronics such as Vizio, Dell and Samsung. The high-growth tablet category is less than a year old and yet it is already a multi-billion-dollar global market that dominates trade shows.
But after the glitz of CES and the upcoming Mobile World Congress subsides, some hard questions will need to be answered about tablets this year, such as: Who will make profits beyond Apple? Is the market already oversupplied? And, could tablets be a temporary fad like netbooks?
Nicola Philbin, UK general manager of devices, Huawei
The key word that defines the future state of innovation is: simplicity. Consumers and businesses will continue to seek technology that simplifies the way we live and work and minimises the burdens of the information overload.
CES showcases the latest and greatest gadgets. But even the coolest gadgets have to be simple, and that means they need to be ‘always on’ and always accessible.
But technology has to extend beyond functions and widgets. It needs to be affordable, incorporate seamlessly into how we live and work, and offer personalisation – the hot topics at the show were tablet devices, internet browser-led TV search solutions and an Android smartphone that sits within Huawei DNA.
Following the huge success of the first IDEOS smartphone that launched in September 2010, IDEOS X5 was added to Huawei’s IDE