Big News Around CES That Got Little Coverage

Posted by Rob Enderle, Principal Analyst, Enderle Group

Las Vegas (NV) - There were some interesting things that happened during CES that were game changers which didn't get a lot of coverage because so many of us were focused on things like the Palm Pre which attracted writers like flames attract moths.   This included the Slacker announcement on the iPhone, and the best blog editor on the planet which is free from Microsoft.

Dell Beat HP With a Printer
HP owns the printer market but they really haven't embraced the portable part of it very well.  Once we had Polaroid cameras which allowed us to take pictures and give friends immediate prints (well the original one anyway) but with digital cameras you typically have to upload print or email the things out neither one of which is as easy to do for most as simply giving a traditional picture.   Dell brought out the Wasabi printer, a little inkless printer about the size of the original iPod that folks could carry with them to give out instant prints to folks who can't figure out there iPods or Phones.   Ironically enough Polaroid is the only other vendor I know of that has a printer, the Zink, in this class.  Oh and the paper is recyclable, if you don't like what you printed you can run it through again.

iPhone + Slacker
To me the Slacker music service is vastly better than any other music service on the planet because it gives you access to a huge library, you don't have to manage the tunes, and there is no fee for the entry service.    You can't beat free and no management overhead but the chance that Apple would allow something that was better than iTunes on an iPhone seemed just close to impossible.  
Yet they did, in what was an amazing event Apple allowed Slacker to be in their Application Store and you can get that service on your iPhone.   I can't get over how huge this is and it may point to a kinder, gentler, less controlling Apple.  Or someone may have missed a meeting.   Either way this was, well, huge!

Microsoft Does Blogging and Free
When the latest version of Windows Live went, well live, it included a product called Windows Live Writer which is a wonderful free Blog editing tool that a number of folks who I know who aren't fans of Office live off.   This thing is great, it allows you to imbed pictures and photo albums, do boarder treatments, multiple thumbnails, configure blogs for automatic publishing when you complete a piece, and other stuff I haven't discovered yet.  (I'm just learning this tool).

This was buried in Windows Live Essentials and it is serious product at a seriously inexpensive (ok how many times can I say free?) price.

HP Corners the Market on Windows 7 Touch
With Windows 7 rapidly approaching and one of the keystone features being touch you would think that touch machines would be all over CES.   Well they were and virtually all of the ones in public view had an HP logo on them.  HP even had a touch screen business PC announced and ready to go to businesses testing the Windows 7 beta that was released at the show.  With downloads for the Windows 7 beta going vertical this product is showing the potential for a Windows 95 like event and HP is the only vendor currently well positioned around one of the keystone features touch, this was one heck of a coup and, I think, showcased some very well timed strategic thinking.

Hyundai Was the Car Maker of CES 2009
I love looking at the cars at this show and they were all over the place with most being massive science experiments that you couldn't afford even if you did lust for them.  However, I saw two cars that I might be able to afford and really wanted (neither is available yet) and both were from Hyundai.   The first was a tricked out 2010 Genesis Coup and the other was a SUV Crossover that was just a piece of art.  Given these cars were surrounded by beautiful custom cars the fact that they stood out and drew crowds was impressive; the fact they were, OMG, Hyundai's was amazing.

Where oh Where was Google?
There were rumors of a Google Netbook, clearly there were a ton of new Google Android phones coming but Google was nowhere to be found at CES.  Did they miss a meeting?  With Apple backing away from MacWorld because the timing sucked was Google, the youngest of the big players in this space basically saying that CES didn't matter or was it because Google Earth couldn't find Las Vegas.  Inquiring Minds want to know.

With All the Focus on Monitors and 3D Only 2 Actually Would Work
There was a lot of focus on 3D TV and Games but only two monitors , one from Samsung and one from Viewsonic (both 22") would actually run the 3D stuff that NVIDIA was showcasing.   I wonder how many folks will buy a new monitor this year expecting to be able to play 3D games only to have a woops moment when they get the thing home.   3D requires a 120 Hertz refresh rate; regular monitors only do 60 Hertz.  Fortunately they are affordable with the Viewsonic at $349 and the better looking Samsung at $399.

Linux Did Well At CES Because It Didn't Look Like Linux
Palm which had the Palm Pre and Phoenix Technology which had crowds checking out their Hyperspace virtualized desktop both used Linux but neither called it that and neither of the implementations looked like Linux.  Both channeled Apple to create an experience unique to them much as Apple used UNIX to create the MacOS and iPhone platform and concealed all of the visual elements of UNIX to create something unique and cool.   The last back story was that the most successful Linux at CES didn't look or feel like Linux at all and was closer in concept the MacOS and was vastly more popular as a result.   Linux is dead, long live Linux!