2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas leaves industry insiders with plenty to think about and plenty to compete for.
As attendees of 2012 CES head home from the amazingly hospitable Las Vegas, they're sure to have their business batteries fully charged for the coming year. The industry looks strong and confident about its future and the amount of buzz and enthusiasm around it can be truly uplifting. Not even the conspicuous absence of Apple, the indisputable consumer electronics market leader, managed to dampen down this sense of excitement. Here are the 2012 CES trends to keep an eye on in the months to come. For everyone from car enthusiasts to web design experts.
1. The role of the ecosystem
We've seen the convergence of hardware and software companies for years and it is likely to accelerate. Producers of gadgets, from mobiles to fridges, are keen to control and capitalize on what users do with their machines. This means designing them in a way that integrates profitable functionality - shopping, media consumption, etc. - into the product. It's clearly based on such high-profile marriages as iPod and iTunes or Kindle and Amazon. Gadgets are entrance gates to a whole world of content and functionality available in the ecosystem and backed up with online data storage. TVs are next (after desktops, mobiles and tablets) to explore this model.
2. Ultrabooks to revive laptops
Watch out for a new category of notebooks, referred to as ultrabooks, helping laptops stage a comeback. Losing in competition with smaller tablets and smartphones, they were redesigned to fit slimmer cases, feature sleeker design and deliver the kind of web and media experience many consumers are currently looking for – comfortably mobile, sexy and forward-looking. Lenovo, Samsumg, Acer and HP already have stakes in this new game.
3. Thinner, smarter TVs
TV set producers have been desperate for a big break in the industry for quite some time. If things go according to play, they should get one with smart TVs. Design and dimensions have improved enough for consumers to feel lured into buying new sets. Ultra-thin OLED technology is bringing the box to less than the size of a tablet. LG, Samsung and others are seriously tinkering with voice and gesture control, instead of remote control. But the real impulse is bound to come from smarter integration of TV and the web, but the code for ultimate success in this territory is yet to be cracked. When it finally is, everything from video on demand to web design will get under pressure to adapt.
4. Android marches on
Google's OS is growing in leaps and bounds. Its rise seems unstoppable as Google executives close deals with gadget produces from more and more areas. Android is on its way to get integrated into cars, cameras and television sets. Google is clearly willing to innovate as it seeks first mover advantage as the industry evolves in new, unpredictable directions and opportunities appear.