Why follow CES? Because these days, gadgets have cachet

Early in this decade, the International Consumer Electronics Show was mostly tangential to the interests of government information technology — and, as a result, to our coverage of it. CES had always been a launching point for a lot of cool stuff, but its consumer focus put it in the realm of at-home, rather than at-work, equipment. Comdex was the place for the serious IT professional.

But Comdex disappeared in 2004, and CES’ relevance to the workplace has gone up every year. The growth of mobile technologies and handheld gadgets plus a greater emphasis on the availability of data has shifted a lot of the IT focus from the network to the end points. Networks are still essential, of course, but gadgets are increasingly part of the job.

The 2010 edition of CES kicks off this week in Las Vegas. And so off to CES we go.

The 1105 Government Information Group will have two reporters prowling the floor at CES. GCN’s Trudy Walsh and Federal Computer Week’s Doug Beizer will be posting stories on hot developments and tweeting their observations and updates at twitter.com/govcomputernews.

What can we expect this year? Gadgets, gadgets and more gadgets. 

The show isn’t immune to economic realities, and prognosticators expect attendance to be down by about 15 percent, but the Seattle Times points out that about 110,000 people are still expected to attend, getting a look at some 20,000 new products from 2,500 companies.

Pre-show coverage has tended to focus on similar themes. CNN highlights eight likely trends to emerge from this year’s CES, including tablets, e-readers and mobile TV, an outgrowth of last year’s switch from analog to digital TV signals. People will be able to get live shows on handheld and other portable devices, and even in their cars. (Imagine the fun when the potential Super Bowl-winning pass is in the air just as the light turns red!) 

The U.K.-based Guardian notes that what’s old is new again at CES 2010: Tablets, 3-D TVs and e-readers among them. But the show could also reveal signs of a coming battle between laptops with Intel chips and those with ARM Cortex chips running Linux.

And the Silicon Valley-based Business Insider expands on those lists, including, among other items, netbooks, green technology – or, at least, claims of green technology – and an emerging focus on paid content. In what could prove to be a significant development, for good or ill, the show will feature a day-long track on how to employ all these great gadgets and mobile technologies to build a pay-per-use model.

Interestingly, two of the most anticipated events associated with CES won’t even happen at the show. Google will unveil its Nexus One smart phone on Jan. 5, a day before Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s CES keynote speech and two days before the official start of the show. Google, in fact, won’t be exhibiting at CES, but the timing of the company’s announcement has linked it to the show. Ditto for Apple, which will be absent in Las Vegas, but plans to announce its new tablet on Jan. 26.

So, keep an eye out for our coverage of developments from CES floor. And if our own coverage isn’t enough – if you just have to follow every development – the Web site GeekTonic offers a rundown of blogs you can follow to keep up with news in specific technologies.


About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.


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