Commentary

Consumer Electronics Show 2011: A consumer wireless fest

Mike Jude, program manager, Stratecast/Frost & Sullivan

The Consumer Electronics Show 2011 might as well have been called a consumer wireless show. All of the big announcements had to do with wireless technology.

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Indications are that CES will increasingly be the mobility showcase, and wireless technology will be the theme.

Mike Jude
Program Manager
Stratecast/Frost & Sullivan

AT&T announced the imminent deployment of its 4G LTE network, along with a plethora of LTE-enabled new smartphones due for release in the second half of 2011. Verizon followed with its own LTE smartphone announcements.

Many of the supporting vendor players like Ericsson and Motorola also made hay on their new LTE-capable modules and supporting chip sets.

The consumer wireless announcements didn’t stop with the carriers, however. Just about all consumer electronics now have some form of wireless capability. The 2011 CES featured cameras with built-in Bluetooth transceivers so that downloading pictures to a PC and enabling printing capabilities is now an exercise in proximity to a personal network. And of course, tablet PCs are all wireless enabled. Even Amazon’s next-gen Kindle eBook has built-in 3G connectivity, compliments of Amazon and AT&T

For the home networking environment, LG demonstrated smart appliances that can connect wirelessly to the home Wi-Fi network to report status and energy use. Although these smart appliances (washer, dryer, refrigerator and oven) are only in the concept stage at this point, they seem too well finished to be simply conceptual. LG is almost certainly contemplating some form of release in the next couple of years.

Automotive wireless was also pervasive at 2011 CES. GM’s Volt is wirelessly enabled and can support a rich diversity of connected devices in addition to the ubiquitous OnStar service and systems. Other automakers also showed off their wireless features.

2011 CES featured new smartphones, plus new apps to run on them

It goes without saying that smartphones are de rigueur at events like these. Not only were new devices demonstrated in abundance by Motorola, Samsung, LG and HTC, but lots of new applications designed to run on them were in evidence.

One application from Globaltel Media was especially intriguing. Gobaltel Media’s founder and CEO Robert Sanchez has developed a way to embed rich electronic content like images, music and video clips into SMS messages.

This platform, called Alirti, gives companies the ability to send much richer information to any phone capable of receiving a text message (which includes most phones). The platform also logs the receipt of messages. For merchandisers, the virtues are obvious. But it is notable that these capabilities offer many of the virtues of a smartphone to simple cell phone users. Alirti is likely to find a significant audience.

All in all, Consumer Electronics Show 2011 demonstrated something that has become apparent over the last decade: Consumer electronics are increasingly required to work in a mobile world, and wireless technology is the essential enabler. Indications are that CES will increasingly be the mobility showcase, and wireless technology will be the theme.

About the author: Mike Jude is a program manager at Stratecast/Frost & Sullivan in charge of the consumer communication services practice. He brings 30 years of experience in technology management in manufacturing, wide-area network design, intellectual property management and public policy. Jude holds degrees in electrical engineering and engineering management and a Ph.D. in decision analysis. He is co-author of The Case for Virtual Business Processes: Reduce Costs, Improve Efficiencies and Focus on Your Core Business, Cisco Press, 2003.

This was first published in January 2011

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