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January 18, 2011

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Over-the-topulence at CES 2011

This year’s CES show was marked by very strong attendance, an upbeat tone, and significantly better ‘feel’ than the past couple of years. Cab lines, booth glitz, and general over-the-topulence all came back to Vegas after a long absence. Several of the booths were astonishingly large and expensive. At Microsoft, an entire segment was devoted to the new Kinect controller for the Xbox 360. I paced off the Samsung booth, starting at cell phones and ending at Internet-connected washing machines. It measured 110 paces by 55 paces, or approximately the size of some of the CES keynote speakers’ egos. Tablets No booth was complete without a full lineup of iPad clones. There are tablets with cameras, 3D tablets, tablets with videophones, tablets that convert into notebooks and game platforms. If nobody else makes a killing on tablets, then Corning certainly will, as they are the sole provider of the special “gorilla glass” used on all of the touch surfaces. 3D Last year’s show was all about 3D. The subject continues to be hot this year, particularly in the quest for solutions that don’t require the dreaded “dork glasses.” As before, the lack of standards and the lack of content are impediments to success, although the video game world is going 3D at full throttle. Microsoft Beyond the very strong presence for Xbox Kinect, there was a strong push for the Windows Mobile platform. Rumor is that the new OS has little market support, and that Microsoft is contemplating acquisitions including some handset vendors in order to catch up to the Apple and Google smartphone successes. The MediaRoom demo was essentially unchanged from 2009, 2008, and earlier. It is reported that the entire MediaRoom business is now reorganized under the Xbox business unit. Prior to the show, there was much anticipation a new Microsoft OTT box that would be based on the Xbox platform. Either the press was wrong, or the truck didn’t arrive in time – no OTT box on display.

Google TV #Fail Prior to CES, Google had publicly requested their partners to defer GoogleTV announcements. Poor industry reviews, poor sales, and a very negative reception by content owners have sent the team back to the labs for more work. They are very smart guys, and they will get it right eventually. Gesture technologyGesture systems PrimeSense is the Israeli chipset vendor that powers the gesture recognition features of the Kinect. One TV vendor was showing gesture based navigation, eliminating the remote control. A wrist flick left or right changed channels; other motions would mute or adjust volume.  Rude gestures switched the set from CNN to Fox News. Cool Toys Wired moto The Wired magazine booth featured this transforming electric motorcycle. It operates as a Segway-style device at low speeds, but extends the front wheel to conventional motorcycle format for the open road. No mention of their need for DRM… Even in off years, CES gives companies something to talk about. Please see other interesting CES insights from Kurt Scherf of Parks Associates and the gang at TechCrunch. We would love to know your thoughts from the show.

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