We've seen the year of the netbook. We've seen the year of the tablet. So far, the only major theme at the 2012 International CES is Windows 8.
There's been much ado about 2012 being Microsoft's last keynote at 6:30 p.m. Monday night, and Redmond will go out touting the benefits of its coming operating system. But there's plenty of other action this year.
The Consumer Electronics Show officially begins Tuesday and runs through Friday. The show will feature 2,700 exhibitors, and organizers expect 140,000 attendees from 140 countries -- three times the number of slot machines on the Vegas strip -- to flood the Las Vegas Convention and World Trade Center. Manufacturers, retailers, content providers and creators, broadband developers, wireless carriers and many others make up the 2012 International CES.
CES Keynotes Abound
Manufacturers are hopeful. The average U.S. household has 24 consumer electronics products, and U.S. consumer electronics industry sales were expected to exceed $190 billion in 2011, according to CES organizers. It's an important venue for keynote speakers, which include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs, Daimler AG Chairman Dieter Zetsche, Intel CEO Paul Otellini, Xerox CEO Ursula Burns, Ford's Alan Mulally, Verizon's John Stratton, Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg, and YouTube Vice President of Global Content Partnerships Robert Kynci.
Jacobs and Consumer Electronics Association president and CEO Gary Shapiro will offer the State of the CE Industry Address and Opening Technology and Evolving Countries Keynote at 8:30 a.m. on Jan. 10. Zetsche will offer a keynote at 11 a.m. and Otellini will offer his keynote at 4:30.
On Wednesday, the CES Innovation Power Panel will feature Xerox Corp., Verizon Enterprise Solutions and Ford Motor Company at 9 a.m., Vestberg's keynote at 1 p.m and Kynci will offer his keynote at 10 a.m. AT&T's David Christopher, GE's Beth Comstock, Facebook's Carolyn Everson, Walmart's Stephen Quinn, Hyundai's Steve Shannon and Unilever's Keith Weed will offer the Brand Keynote at 4 p.m. on Jan. 11.
"Even though this is the last show at which Microsoft will offer a keynote, Microsoft is still casting somewhat of a shadow with Windows 8," said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at Enderle Group. "Of course, the biggest shadow cast by a company that's not there is Apple, and you are certainly seeing a lot of focus on tablets this year." Apple doesn't participate in any trade shows.
Spotlight on 3D Content
One of the first SuperSessions at CES is "Spotlight on 3D Content with HBO's Robert Zitter. There's also an IP&TV World Forum on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the first SuperSession is Connect2Car: Connecting Automotive and Consumer Electronics Lifestyles. Toyota and Chrysler will be on that panel, along with representatives from the Mobile Electronics Retailers Association, DUB Publishing, OnStar and Live Radio.
"There's a lot of speculation around automotive still. It's expected that we will see a wave of consumer technology making it into cars," Enderle said. "I know there are a large number of announcements expected at the show throughout the week."
Also on Tuesday, Argue the Future will, well, argue the future. Representatives from HTC, The Verge and Microsoft will be on hand. The Federal Communication Commission is also making an appearance in a one on one with FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. Finally, Brian Dunn from Best Buy will offer a global perspective on retail on Tuesday afternoon.