The weather is beautiful in Las Vegas as nearly 150,000 registered attendees flock to the 2013 Consumer Electronic Show. Products and services are displayed over 1.8 million square-feet of floor space at three primary venues: the sprawling Las Vegas Convention Center; the Las Vegas Hotel next door (formerly the Hilton); and The Venetian about a mile down the Strip. The show runs through Friday.
Smartphones, tablets, and large TVs dominate 2013 CES. The iPhone remains the standard against which all smartphones are compared. Manufacturers exhibiting at CES are showing thinner and larger smartphones. Tablets are incorporated into ultrabooks and hybrid PCs, with some designs using hinges and others with tablets that snap on and fold over a keyboard. There are cinema-quality flat screens TVs that can be controlled by voice commands and gestures. Manufacturers are still promoting 3D TVs and the high-picture-quality OLED (organic light-emitting diode) TVs.
Samsung is the most prominent exhibitor this year. As the Apple-fighter, Samsung seems to have extra panache this year setting it apart. The Galaxy Note tablet and Galaxy Note II smartphone are attracting lots of attention.
If anyone at CES is missing Apple and Microsoft as exhibitors, I have not noticed. The iLounge area of the show contains hundreds of accessory products for the iPod, iPhone, and iPad, demonstrating Apple’s huge impact on the industry.
Microsoft, incidentally, is absent from CES for the first time in 14 years. Its software operates many of the products on display here but its own hardware products, such as the Surface tablet, are not a factor at CES.
The situation with Google is somewhere in between Apple and Microsoft. Google does not have a booth displaying its products but is listed as an exhibitor with a small meeting space. Google’s Android 4.1 and 4.2 operating systems are in many new, non-Apple smartphones. The large TV manufacturers at CES mildly promote Google TV. At the same time, expectations are lower for Google because it does not have software or hardware products that consumers buy directly from Google.
The big three U.S. auto manufacturers — Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors — are here promoting their in-car electronic and communications systems that have become very influential on new car purchases. Ford is also displaying its electric vehicles and the user-friendly charging equipment that you could have in your garage.
CES also promotes innovation. Years ago, for example, CES promoted using USB technology. Today, 2013 CES has a series of “tech-zones” that promote new technologies such as the high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) and the microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) being used in smartphones and cutting-edge consumer electronic devices.
Finally, 2013 CES offers keynote addresses by industry leaders and a surprising number of panel discussions with industry and government representatives. I will attend the keynote address by Samsung’s president to see what he has to say about the litigation with Apple (nothing, I’m sure) and the session with FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski discussing broadband, spectrum and other regulatory issues affecting consumer electronics.