Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Apple Erasing the Haze of CES while still Limbering Up for 2011

CES came and went and except for the most devout tech columnist who itemized every doodad in some database it was a blurry haze of products. Out of the plethora of items nothing earthshaking. Most casual observers won't be able to remember much: "Yeah I think there were like a whole bunch of tablets, but no one said there was an iPad killer. And I think iPad 2 is coming... ".

(Seriously can most casual observers remember much about the differences of all those tablets?)

Many of the most talked about stuff just  reminded many of Apple without Apple being there. Surely many consumers must be thinking "Can't from all these hundreds of companies one of them make something ground breaking like the iPod, the iPhone or the iPad?" The best these companies seem able to do is some incremental response like a tad more processing power to an Apple product of last year. They can't leapfrog or conceptualize something revolutionary. Apple takes risks, remember how derided the iPad was when it first came out (what no optical drive, no USB?) ,  even it's name was made fun off. Apparently no one has the guts to take big risks. See they still don't dare to stand with Steve Jobs on Flash although they know it is sloppy old tech, vulnerable to exploits, slows down processing and eats away battery life (some studies say 30%). They would allow a proprietary technology owned by one company Adobe to hold their devices hostage ("we're waiting for the next Flash update for it to run properly") because they don't dare to make a stand for better tech like HTML 5 as it might lose some customers. (if every manufacturer stood with Apple Flash would be history and replaced with better tech ... and everyone would have 30% or more battery life and fewer crashes but few have the guts) Without risks there are no revolutions.

I mean there was interesting stuff at CES (from the review I've read) but nothing that screamed "the Next Insanely Great Thing" which everyone next year will be copying.

(The last few months the device that in the minds of many ordinary consumers that was somewhat as interesting as Apple's is the Microsoft Kinect. For all its flaws I think the Kinect is interesting and a hit. But although mentioned in Ballmer's keynote it's a product that has been launched already).

Last year Apple punctured the balloon with the iPad unveiling. This year wasn't so dramatic but it stole some thunder with the Mac App Store launch. (Of course for Apple fans and aapl investors Mac App Store is a big deal). But then today Apple dispensed all the hazy memories of CES (for the U.S anyways) with the Verizon iPhone announcement. The press is absolutely full of the news. The iPhone has dominated mindshare in the America's gadgetsphere  and it finally landing in Verizon (even if expected) was still like a bombshell. Polls like ChangeWave have indicated that 50% or more Verizon customers want the iPhone and as Verizon is America's biggest carrier it's a big deal.

And that's just Apple stealing the limelight with the iPhone 4. It's early days yet,  there will be iPad 2 and doubtlessly a whole host of other things Apple will announce in the coming months, Apple is just limbering up for the new year...