Last week began the 2nd week of the holiday shopping season that now follows right after Christmas. AKA “Consumer Electronics Show” it is held in Las Vegas and despite its name it is not for actual consumers to attend, but for industry insiders to glimpse and ogle all of the new technology coming to the market this year. I am a geek, but I can’t get in, so I have to watch from afar, wiping drool from my computer screen, and during bouts away from my computer, off of my Droid X.
The amazing thing about CES is that it used to really astound attendees, now not so much. Most of those coming already know about what they will be seeing, but now they get to kick the tires up close, and ogle (I love that word) all of the show models who are now back in vogue again. The bigger news for the last several years has been who hasn’t been there – Apple. For some time Apple chose to leave CES and hold their own announcement launches. Last year, 2 weeks after CES, Steve Jobs showed the iPad. Now it is changing the way we read and communicate away from our computers. This year there were 35 new iPad like tablets that were shown at CES. From zero to 60 miles and hour in under 2 seconds is what the change feels like in the digital world.
This used to be the showcase for not just Apple, but also for Microsoft. Boy have things changed for both camps. Last year they showed a type of tablet running Windows 7. It fizzled, and the successors to that model are running the Android versions of software. A big hit for Microsoft, the former elephant in the room (not a jab at Steve Ballmer, or at least not intentional).
The other big participants in the CES were all of the coming versions of 3-D TVs. I’m still not on board with this trend, but then I have a hard time seeing HDTV with all of my versions of ‘blended lenses’ to see across the room. Sound not so bad, but then I have to change the batteries in my hearing aid or I’m dead. Getting old in the digital age does have some perks, even if the tiny batteries are expensive.
The last comment on what I gleaned is that this will also be the year of 4G coming to many of the cell carriers. The bad news is that they all say it is coming, but someone forgot to put in the upgrade order with the engineers who build the systems. Even my carrier, Verizon, is touting their new system, but it will take years for it to roll out to most areas. Too make matters worse they are announcing that they will sell iPhones – yeah, but the demand on the system from the projected increase may shake coverage to its roots and dropped calls will increase there, not on AT&T – boo. Last year there were 4 iPhones and one standard cell running on AT&T and Verizon. This year there are now 4 Android phones and one hold out iPhone – slated to go to the new iPhone when it drops. The score – 4 less AT&T phones and now 5 Verizon serviced phones. Change is great, but it’s getting crowded on the new party line.
The big question is – what does all of this mean? Change is accelerating, everything is moving towards digital, and those who provide content and channels will control the world. That means that Comcast and Time Warner will be the big winners. The big losers – old media who live in the print world exclusively. They are declining, and most are now fully onboard and ready to push out their content to iPads, Tablets and Smartphones. The plop sound in the driveway of your newspaper at 5AM is destined to be replaced with the ping on your digital appliance of choice very soon.