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Shahid Khan makes major media predictions at International Consumer Electronics Show 2011
CES 2011: What We'll Remember
By Kathryn Glass
Published January 10, 2011 | FOXBusiness
Every January, just as shoppers the world over are learning how to use all of those new gadgets they bought over the holidays, the consumer electronics industry starts the new year off with a massive launch of the next year’s stocking stuffers.
The $165 billion industry holds its international trade show in Las Vegas, where more than 2,700 exhibitors gather to launch their latest and greatest products at the International Consumer Electronic Show.
This year, the event drew more than 140,000 attendees and featured product launches in everything from gaming and entertainment and audio and automotive technology to smartphones and smart, connected appliances. Some of the most influential people in the industry spoke in panels and keynotes, discussing all types of innovation, trends, and expectations. At the core of all of these events, however, is the consumer, and this year’s show gave consumers an exciting glimpse into the future at the technology that could become a part of their lives as soon as this time next year.
Here’s a look at what made headlines as the major themes that emerged from CES 2011:
Convergence Catches On
Convergence was the overarching theme of the show this year, and leading the march toward this converged new world were the connected televisions. After years of conjecture about how the growing catalogue of video content on the Web would make it to the small screen, this year, a union between the Internet and television finally took place, said Shahid Kahn, chairman and chief strategist for MediaMorph, a New York-based digital media tracking firm. Kahn expects this trend to grow beyond the convergence of TV and Internet.
“The way I look at it, convergence is connecting the content for the consumer across all kinds of devices,” Kahn said, meaning soon all of our devices will be able to be connected online. Kahn explained that apps now maintain a general conformity, making them easy to use across multiple platforms.
Arvind Jayabal, general manager of mobile for Wipro Technologies, a global IT services, product engineering and consumer products company based in India, said it’s this transferable platform in the form of an app that has lead to widespread adoption. Jayabal said a few years ago, his own parents used the Internet primarily to send and receive email, but now that they have started using Facebook and Twitter, it’s opened up a whole new world for them.
“They really don’t care if using a netbook, tablet, tv or laptop,” Jayabal said. “I think that’s the primary reason convergence is taking off this year and will continue to gather in momentum because of the commonality of the user-experience.” The availability of online content on more than just a desktop or laptop computer will continue to increase, but consumers in the U.S. are already seeking a smooth transition for content across multiple devices. According to Wipro, the average American viewer already watches 3.5 hours of video from their mobile phones each week. Now that tablets are poised for widespread adoption, the number of people who view video content online will only increase.
The idea of being able to use Netflix, Skype or Facebook on your TV, PC, tablet and smartphone is just the beginning. Arvind said Wipro’s strategy is to think of convergence in terms of a four-screen approach, with consumers accessing converged content through the use of their laptop, mobile phone, connected TV, and from automotive.
3-D Back ... And Glasses-Free
Companies touted new 3-D technology yet again this year, boasting of televisions, laptops, video cameras and point-and-shoot cameras that all come equipped with 3-D capabilities. Despite the technology’s failure to see mainstream adoption in 2010, proponents of 3-D claim that public appetite for a 3-D viewing experience across a host of personal tech devices is alive and well.
“The industry has sold more 3-D in nine months than we sold of high definition in the first six years,” said Joe Taylor, President of Panasonic North America in an interview with FOX Business Network anchor Liz Claman. “I think, yes, in some sense it’s slower adoption than we would like, but it’s not doing bad at all — it’s doing very well.”
Manufacturers like Panasonic, Sony (NYSE:SNE) and LG all debuted a line-up of 3-D enabled devices, but Toshiba and its glasses-free 3-D technology may be the winner in the race to develop 3-D technology that consumers will want to use. Industry insiders say the glasses are still a stumbling block for widespread adoption.
“It’s probably going to be a while before people run out to by a 3-D TV; at least until we have 3-D available that you can watch without the eyewear,” Khan said. He explained that the adoption of HDTV was much quicker than was expected, and so consumers may hold off awhile before investing in another television.
Jayabal agrees that the adoption of 3-D in the home is still a way off. “3-D was a big deal last year, but I just don’t see the average American throwing on a pair of 3-D glasses to watch an episode of 'How I Met Your Mother,'” Jayabal said.
Tablets Take Off
Perhaps more than any other trend, the tablets were the most ubiquitous. Android tablets were announced by a host of manufacturers, including Samsung, Lenovo, Toshiba, Coby and LG. The one question everyone was asking was whether any of these products could take on Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad.
“Apple is a tablet and an ecosystem,” Kahn said. “No one tablet can compete with Apple, but the Android ecosystem will compete with Apple, so it will be a bunch of tablets that actually take on Apple.”
Kahn went on to explain that the new 4G Network will be the biggest boon toward the adoption of tablets and smartphones, as the devices’ connection speeds are now fast enough to efficiently access content.
“The devices and content have been around sometime, it was actually the pipe. It wasn’t really until broadband kicked in that you started consuming content on devices,” Kahn said.
Jayabal said the question that we should now ask is what the quick adoption of tablets will do for the enterprise world.
“Consumers will start using mobile devices, whether smartphone or tablet, for enterprise,” Jayabal predicted. “It’s a very important driver which will fuel future growth.”