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Friday, January 13, 2012

CES 2012 - The CES We Know & Love Is Back

As CES closes today, the major impression we carry away is that CES Is Back.  The show was much more fun, much more dynamic, and much bigger than it has been since the economic collapse.

The numbers back it up, nearly 2 million feet of exhibit space, 5,000 press and analysts, 140,000 attendees.  Taken as 1 building, the South Hall 1,2 3 and 4 is one of the worlds largest buildings.  And with so many product intros, more than in many years, some are bound to stick.

Photo: Joe Lackow
The highlights for us, and for many attendees, will be the intro of the Lumia 900 and the hybrid phone/tablet Samsung Note, each very heavily promoted and for once, certainly worthy of the hype, especially the Lumia 900.

Now that the visceral appeal of the Lumia 900 intro at Monday's Nokia conference has worn off, the reality has set in.  And it is even better.  As a GPS unit as capable as any GPS out there, with serious Navteq navigation quality data instead of consumer-level Google or Bing maps underneath, combined with a 4G smartphone on AT&T's network, this promises to be the low cost logistics solution many of us have been waiting for.  Smart phone navigation was not up to snuff.  And now, it is.  And this Nokia re-entry rocket will also put a lot of digital cameras and software to bed, with its powerful ability to do wide angle high res images without cropping.

We should also mention a couple of technologies we saw at CES that we are trying to pull into our little world of GIS, mapping, and location based services and advertising.  One of them is Shodogg, "Videos Best Friend", which is designed to allow users to "toss" fat entertainment content i.e. TV and movies from device to device wirelessly and trnsparently.  We see business applications for Shodogg, allowing users to plug into and share and collaborate on streaming presentations regardless of the device they have; and we see a LOT of potential in tossing Call To Duty (and other games) from device to device.

We also like Boogie Board, which is designed to do away with paper notes and save trees.  The basic model (left) does just that, especially useful in a family household where it will revolutionize the fridge note.

But the upscale model (right) lets you use USB to get what you drew or wrote on the Boogie Board into your computer.  And that is a whole other deal, useful for students and artists and physicians and a host of other users and applications.  And we think, with a little tweaking, we can turn it into a really, really inexpensive and nifty little digitizing tablet that we can use to get small paper maps and other GIS (and CAD) content into our PCs where we can work with them with robust tools.  Stay tuned on Boogie Board.

Among the other cool and interesting stuff we saw - solar panels storing energy and powering portable devices; the iM Watch mobile phone controller; the continued evolution of Square as a payment system; the giant LG 3D panel and a number of first generation 3D games.

And as we leave the amazing venue that is Las Vegas - after gambling only on the blind grab-bag gifts from White Basin at the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian for the ladies - we breathe a sigh of relief that America, and the world, seems slowly to be turning the economic corner.

And we can't wait to see the Lumia 900 this spring.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Back In The USA - Nokia Returns with Windows Phone on AT&T

Photo: Joe Lackow
The 3rd ecosystem of the mobile revolution - Windows Phone - is poised to join Android and iOS in the "mobile ecosystem wars" with the introduction of the Lumia 900, Nokia's new 4G smartphone.

And I want one.

It's got a super long life battery.

It's on AT&T's great 4G net.

It has a super-black gorilla glass screen, a pure clear black that empowers startling color.

A sophisticated set of wide angle cameras, with the back capable of super wide angle, uncropped, unchopped, very high resolution images.

It's "bold, beautiful and balanced" - in other words, Apple-like.

It includes Nokia Drive at no cost, GPS based navigation empowered by Nokia's Navteq street map data.
Photo: Joe Lackow

  It's on the rapid development fast track, developed brought to market in under one year - with Steve Ballmer (photo, left) present in person to tell us so.

And in doing all this, it "brings out the best in Windows Phone", "the 1st real windows phone".  It "stands apart from the crowd, with a rich and differentiated ecosystem."

Is it just hype, or enough for Nokia to successfully re-enter the U.S. market?  We think it just might be.  It will be available this Spring.

And for now, we are out at Red Rocks Canyon contemplating it all.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

CES 2012 Trends to Watch

After 20 minutes of establishing a PC to projector connection in an SRO roomful of tech types, the 2012 CES kicked off with a press briefing presentation of major trends from the past two years, like 3D and tablets - and what to expect from this year's show.

The CEA research team specifically highlighted 3 major trends to watch for this year.

Photo: Joe Lackow

Morphing of computers.  Convergence continues, but suddenly the computer is morphing into a number of different devices, interconnecting and synched - but pulling computing out of computers into other devices, while pushing device function into computers, can be expected to cause quite a bit of friction.

Photo: Joe Lackow
The Year of the Interface.   The Internet Enabled Experience now refers to easy to use and increasingly transparent interfaces to allow users to corral content from multiple sources in multiple locations.  In other words, simplicity with richness.

Prevalence of personalized devices.  Boy, is it no longer one size fits all in the electronics world.  Personalization and customization make your product your own, leveraging a hardware core and development frameworks that are just "open enough" to allow 3rd parties to develop and add value for platforms.

Photo: Joe Lackow
Stay tuned for much, much more from beautiful Las Vegas, Nevada as we elaborate from CES 2012 all week.