CES 2011 – Brief update

CES Logo

Las Vegas, Sin Geek City!  The Consumer Electronics Electronics Show kicked off with a bang.  Wednesday evening featured Microsoft’s keynote address.  Steve Ballmer introduced microsoft’s approach to control all three screens in the home; PC, TV, and mobile.

To my pleaseant surprise, the three-pronged attack began with gaming.  2010 was a record-breaking year for Xbox 360. The console boasts 50 million units sold life-to-date with 30 million of those consumers active on Xbox Live.  Approximately 60% of the entire consumer base is connected online (we’ll come back to this momentarily).  Traditionally, 50% of Microsoft’s Live membership subscribes to Xbox Live Gold.  However, at E3 2010, Microsoft reported 20 million Gold subscribers.  Whatever the percentage, the gamer is a connected consumer.

Speaking of Kinect, Microsoft managed to sell 8 million in 60 days.  With an average selling price of $150 per stand-along Kinect unit, the Electronics Devices Division retained $1.2 billion in revenue from Kinect alone in two months.  Now, Microsoft plans to support its profit-realizing accessory by offering Avatar-specific software.  Avatar Kinect enhances the tracking capability of Kinect down to facial expressions and eye-brow movements after a spring 2011 dashboard update. 

Over 8 million sold.

Avatar’s aren’t the only software innovation getting Kinect support.  Netflix now gets Kinect-navigation support.  The once-exclusive Hulu Plus service also arrives on the 360 with Kinect support after the spring update. Microsoft mentioned that Xbox Live brought the cloud to the masses.  That is exactly what Verizon is counting on. 

Early morning on January 6, 2010, Verizon Wireless kicked off their keynote.  Verizon focused on building the communications infrastrucutre to serve the world.  Verizon can move data over cellular network at over 462 megabytes-per-second.  T-Mobile later in the day touted speeds of 150.  That’s a three-fold difference.

Verizon partnered with Time-Warner CEO to discuss the interconnectivity we want in the future.  What’s important is that Time-Warner, one of the biggest cable providers in the country, made public commitment to provide its userbase with free content on every screen possible utilizing Verizon’s communication infrastructure.  How will they do this?  Companies like Motorola will help.

Motorola announced and demonstrated Motorola’s new cellphone and tablet for Verizon, the Bionic and Xoom respectively.  The Bionic boast 4G connectivity, a 4.3 inch screen, and two (2) 1 Ghz processors via a dual-core chip.  It is a screaming fast phone with 512 MB of ram and a 1080p HDMI out port.  I’m still amazed at a dual-core chip on a phone.  No release date or pricing was listed.  But Motorola’s magic didn’t stop there.

Droid Does It Again

Motorola makes a lasting impression with its brand new tablet, the Xoom. The iPad may be in a corner crying from the pain.  The Xoom is a 10.1 inch, Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) packing bully that also sports dual-core 1Ghz processors.  3D Googlemaps integration, full adobe flash 10.1 and a slew of customized OS features make this table a fearsome competitor for Apple.  The Xoom will launch this Q1 in 2011 asa 3G device and be upgraded to 4G beginning in Q2.

Looks Who’s In The Game

Perhaps the most surprising development of the show thus far is Vizio.  Yes, that television manufacturer also announced a tablet and cellular phone. Both devices run Android and feature an IR blaster compatible with over 90% of all electronic devices.  Vizio’s next line of TV will be compatible with both devices.  Vizio promises that both products will be competitively priced. I can only hope Vizio puts downward pressure on tablets and phones as it did on flat-panel LCDs.

Vizio has a tablet.

There are still a couple of days left of CES 2011.  Imagine what else Las Vegas can produce.
All images acquired from Engadget.com’s spectacular coverage from CES 2011.