New year, new trends at Sin City's huge gadget fest
By Andy Goldberg Jan 3, 2006, 17:10 GMT
Las Vegas - More than 130,000 tech-industry insiders are converging on Las Vegas this week for the sector's biggest annual trade show, the Consumer Electronics Show which takes place every year in the gambling and convention capital.
The focus of this year's show in Sin City is the continued drive to integrate myriad digital devices into a seamless consumer experience. The trend is highlighted by the corporate makeover that Intel Corp., the world's largest maker of computer chips, is expected to announce at the show. The expo begins Thursday and runs through Sunday.
The Silicon Valley bellwether is changing its logo for the first time in 37 years to include a consumer-friendly swirl, while changing its tagline from 'Intel Inside' to 'Leap Ahead' as the cornerstones of a 2.5-billion-dollar marketing campaign.
The move is designed to accentuate the company's push into home entertainment and high-margin consumer electronics, as the market for beige box personal computers becomes ever more saturated and low cost.
Intel is only one of 2,500 companies hoping to attract the limelight at the gadget trade show, which usually provides key indications of where the cool quotient is heading in the 122-billion- dollar-a-year sector.
Among other major names expected to make headlines at the show are Microsoft's Bill Gates, Google's Larry Page, who will deliver his first CES keynote address, Sony's Sir Howard Stringer and Yahoo's Terry Semel.
All are expected to focus on their companies' efforts to provide entertainment and information on the go, to help consumers customize the features that are suited to their lifestyle and to get a personal grip on myriad technology offerings that often prove more confusing than beneficial to anyone without an engineering degree.
At the centre of this trend is of course the Internet, which ten years after the start of its popularity is beginning to live up to the lofty visions of its pioneers.
With some 50 million U.S. households now boasting broadband access, along with tens of millions more around the world, the Internet is revolutionizing communications, handling phone calls, video conferences, TV shows and much more, both inside the home, thanks to broadband and Wi-Fi, and outside the home, thanks to increasingly fast mobile phone networks.
This is the biggest theme - where every device is connected and always on,' says analyst Tim Bajarin. 'If devices are always connected it changes the way you design a product.'
Many of the most acclaimed gadgets at the show will attempt to capitalise on this trend of complete connectivity. Samsung's YM-P1 portable TV and MP3 player is the first one that receives and plays television signals from satellite broadcasts. This allows you to watch live TV, instead of downloading video clips from a computer connected to the Internet, and could enable the innovative South Korean company to yet emerge as a challenger to Apple's dominant iPod.
Another device that is unhooking the TV from its usual jungle of wires is LG's 50-inch Wireless Plasma Display that gets its signals without wires, drawing images from a separate transmitter unit and needing only one wire to bring it electricity.
The TV of course communicates with your Internet connection, over which you will download most of your movies, and your audio system to optimise the sound experience. It's only a matter of time before it will hook up to your phone system to prevent any unwanted interference to your viewing pleasure; to your oven to synchronise your post-movie dinner; and to your robotic vacuum cleaner to automatically sweep up the popcorn crumbs at the end of the show. Unfortunately those features will probably have to wait until CES 2007.© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur