Top 10 Takeaways From CES 2013
I'm recovering from a Las Vegas hangover. And it has nothing to do with partying. I'm talking about seeing dozens of companies over the course of several days, running to back-to-back-to-back meetings and spending one very late night deliberating our Best of CES Awards with the LAPTOP team. In between all of this I had the opportunity to discuss the big CES trends on CNBC and Fox Business from the show floor. As I emerge from a fog of next-best-thing spin, I thought it might be helpful to summarize some of the lessons I took away from the show, both for those whose heads are still spinning like mine and for the wrongheaded CES doomsayers who decided to sit this one out.
Smart Watches Are Hot But Need Work
CES has a Newfound Startup Spirit
I didn't get a chance to ride it, but the weight-sensing ZBoard skateboard turned a lot of heads at CES. Last but not least, I was impressed by an app that came out of AT&T's hack fest, one that lets a child ring multiple family members with a single call. As some bigger companies eschew Vegas to hold their own events and have the spotlight all to themselves, it will be critical for CES to give smaller innovators a bigger stage.
T-Mobile's CEO is a Breath of Fresh Air--And Really Funny
Wearing a New York Yankees cap, Legere also announced a multi-year MLB deal for integrating T-Mobile's tech. Joe Torre showed up, and T-Mobile's spunky leader had no problem telling those in attendance that he'd rather ask the ex-Yanks skipper questions than field them from us. Overall, Legere demonstrated a deep knowledge of the industry along with a great sense of humor, but most importantly a maverick spirit that could have a huge impact on the struggling carrier.
Android Gaming is About to Explode
Eye, Gesture and Voice Control Are All Coming Together
But that's just the start. The company says it's looking to enable third parties to combine eye, gesture and voice control in popular apps like Photoshop. I put in a request for being able to pinch two fingers in the air to crop a photo and then saying "resize to 675 wide" to make it Web-friendly. That will save my team a lot of extra time at next year's CES.
The Battery Life Problem Will Be Tackled From Multiple Angles
I was also encouraged by some of the demos provided by the Alliance for Wireless Power, including a mock car center console that could juice two phones at once and a table that charged a tablet with a book sandwiched between it and the surface. The competing Qi standard is already in a lot more gear, but you can't ignore the fact that Samsung is backing A4WP's spec. For now, though, we'll have to be content with bulky but effective smartphone cases with integrated batteries, such as the Otterbox Defender with Ion Intelligence.
Windows 8 Needs a Cheap Tablet (Now)
Whether it's a lower-cost Surface or a device made by a partner, Microsoft cannot afford to cede the lower end of the tablet market to Android. And that's not the only threat. Several laptop-makers have seen how well the $249 Samsung Chromebook is selling and are taking a serious look at offering their own in time for back to school. A low-cost Windows 8 slate will also be critical for spurring app development.
More: Top 10 Windows 8 Hybrids
Wearable Health Gadgets Need to Provide More Incentive
I understand the challenge in getting those who are less active off the couch, but it's going to take more than smartphone integration and social sharing. iHealth says that it's talking to insurance providers about its Smart Glucometer to potentially reduce medical visits, but I think the companies in the space need to go a step further. Why not experiment with a Progressive insurance-style incentive program that ties more activity to lower healthcare costs? That would compel me to be less of a couch potato.
Tech Can Actually Bring Families Together
A great example is the Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon, a 27-inch all-in-one PC that folds down to become a huge tablet. Lenovo's Table PC has a unique Aurora UI that rides on top of Windows 8. The family can gather around to enjoy photos and videos, play air hockey and cards and more. Executives from Sony told me that that one of the most popular uses for its similar Tap 20 product is Pictionary. Now, that's a trend I'd like to see continue.
The Pen's Comeback Will Continue--But Few Will Nail the Execution
The Galaxy Note II, for example, lets you open apps by scribbling a single letter and enables users to hover over emails to see their contents. Competitors should be thinking about how to go a step further instead of including a pen just to say you have one.
Editor-in-chief Mark Spoonauer directs LAPTOP’s online and print editorial content and has been covering mobile and wireless technology for over a decade. Each week Mark’s SpoonFed column provides his insights and analysis of the biggest mobile trends and news. You can also follow him on Twitter and Google+.