This year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) takes place in Las Vegas, USA, from Tuesday 10th to Friday 13th January, 2012. There will be dozens of major and minor announcements vying for your attention, but here are three trends we recommend to look out for at the show:
1. Windows Phone LTE handsets
While the main mobile event of the year -- MWC -- occurs a mere six weeks afterwards, CES tends to feature a number of major handset launches of its own -- especially those with a strong focus on the valuable US market. This year, the Windows Phone ecosystem plans to revitalize its assault on the US market with a raft of LTE handsets to counter Android 4.0, Apple iOS 5 and BB10.
A hotly tipped 4G model is the successor to the Nokia Lumia 800, Nokia’s first flagship Windows phone, which was not launched in the US. Instead, Americans could get the opportunity to see what may be Nokia’s first ever superphone, perhaps an enhanced Lumia 800 with a larger screen and LTE, which could be called the Lumia 900 or simply the Nokia Ace. It is important that Nokia gets its sub-branding right for the American market, so we will be watching this one closely.
Elsewhere, HTC should be ready to launch its own LTE Windows Phone devices, while rumors indicate Samsung’s contribution to that market may also be imminent. Sony Ericsson, despite being a launch partner for Windows Phone 7, has been conspicuous by its absence so far. That might be about to change, however, if the ‘tile’ theme for its official pre-show teaser (below) is anything to go by.
Source: Sony Ericsson
2. Intel Medfield devices
Despite initial hype, we’ve seen few LG Windows Phone launches in recent quarters. Two years ago LG was a lead OEM partner for Intel’s Moorestown mobile chip. Unperturbed by the absence of that chip in the broader marketplace, rumor has it that the successor to Moorestown -- the 32nm Medfield chip -- could soon make its public debut inside an LG handset.
After keeping a low mobile profile in 2011 (excluding the Infineon purchase), we expect Intel to make a bigger noise about Medfield at CES this year. While it remains to be seen whether the chip giant has managed to crack the handset market, we would be surprised if Intel didn’t significantly raise its profile in tablets, with the anticipated launch later this year of Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 possibly its best opportunity yet.
But the loudest Intel-related noise may well come from ultrabooks -- the ‘thin, light and fast bootup’ notebook platform designed to serve the market demand suggested by the popularity of the Apple MacBook Air and iPad. While not all of the ultrabooks will feature 3G chipsets, they are being positioned as ‘ultra-mobile’ devices, so that would eventually seem a natural feature for many to have.
3. More smartphone-to-smart-TV convergence?
2012 is the year that many major players will have a fresh crack at smart TVs. Google’s first effort last year ran out of steam pretty quickly, while Apple is publicly treating TV as nothing more than a hobby. However, we expect both companies to renew their focus on the living room in 2012, and where better to make a statement of intent than CES?
Given the expected overlap with their mobile platforms -- Android and iOS -- it stands to reason that Google and Apple will look for ways to more closely integrate your mobile device with your TV. Not only does this increase the functionality for end-users -- for example, by using the device as a remote control for media streaming -- but potentially leverages the existing commercial relationship into new product areas. Apple will not be formally present at CES, of course, but Android hardware partners we recommend investigating at the show include Samsung, LG, Sony and even Vizio.