By Maximilian Clarke
As manufacturers prepare to unveil the latest technologies that will shape the 2012 retail market at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, IT services firm Ovum have outlined their predictions for technology trends.
Tablets & Bring Your Own Device (BYOD): CES 2012 is going to see a number of Android related announcements, both from major OEMs such as Samsung as well as below the radar original design manufacturers (ODMs). While these products will be looking for consumer market share, they will also be targeting Apple's continued hegemony in the enterprise tablet market and as such we expect enterprise-focused mobile device management & data security capabilities and partnerships to be part of this story. We also expect to see some user interface-based approaches to having multiple personas on a single device, enabling the user to differentiate between access permissions on their smart device when connected to enterprise resources versus when it is just being used for personal applications.
Ultrabooks: With the 2011 collapse of the netbook market, the dominance of Apple of both the high end notebook PC and the tablet market, plus category threat from both smartphones and tablets, this year at CES will see a large number of PC manufacturers fight back with "ultra-book" form factor devices. Expect to see these mimic the form factor and feature specifications of the MacBook Air with pricing in the $600 to $700 range. However just as 2011 was awash with Android tablets, it is by no means guaranteed that that both presence of ultra-books will translate into market share by year-end 2012
Microsoft: We will be looking for more insight into Windows 8 beyond the 2011 preview and specific information on release dates and form factors, including a hands-on with Samsung's Windows 8 tablet. Specifically we will be looking at how Microsoft is looking to enable the enterprise to manage and exploit the employee-provisioned laptop trend in Windows 8 and other form factors and deployment scenarios it is considering.
We hope to receive some clarity over which apps will run on ARM architecture and whether "old" Windows apps will still run on the new Windows 8 tablets, which has been a source of some confusion the last few months.
In addition to Windows 8, we hope to hear more about applications for its Kinect-based gesture interface in the enterprise, including retail, manufacturing and healthcare, following the release of the Kinect enterprise SDK in 2011.
Dell: Dell has scaled back its presence at CES this year and the word on the strip is that they will be taking the wraps of a new strategy for the home market. We will be watching to see what the consumer IT angle may be here for the enterprise.
802.11ac: Not specifically an enterprise issue, but an important development for all IP networking, Broadcom is rumoured to be set to demo pre-standardization versions of the updated WiFi standard that will take through-put of wireless local area networking to 1Gbps. While final ratification is not expected until year end, we expect to see router devices this year that will look to anticipate the final protocol and steal a march on the competition.
Consumer related trends that Ovum will be watching for at CES 2012
Tablets: More Android, specifically those of Ice Cream Sandwich flavour, as well as Samsung's Windows 8 tablet. Given that the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are going to want to go after the enterprise tablet market as well as the consumer market, we expect to see Mobile Device Management capabilities and partnerships packaged up as part of the pitch.
Media tech & connected home: The DECE will be promoting new OEM and retailer partnerships, despite on-going concerns regarding the user experience. We expect to see Ultra Definition TVs demoed as a potential evolution path beyond HD. Smart TV application platforms and new user interface models for EPG and metadata navigation are also likely to be demonstrated, as will media sharing over Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) - in the absence of Apple. Google will also be taking up its Google TV and Android STB OEM/ODM deals.
AT&T dominance: AT&T will be the dominant US carrier making news, with several major device launches. We expect not as much from Verizon Wireless, which had lots of device launches last year. But expect them to have more announcements at MWC, next month.
Mobile DTV: We expect to see another slew of mobile DTV (based on the ATSC-MH standard) announcements, including a focus on in-car integration and the Metro PCS announcement that it will range handsets with integrated ATSC silicon. But again these initiatives are loaded with execution risk thanks to the ecosystem / business model / OTT competition / consumer demand / spectrum allocation challenges that we have all documented.
BlackBerry: It’s likely RIM will be showcasing its BB Tablet OS 2.0 at CES, though it is not clear if they will also use the event to launch the Playbook 2 or announce it at a later date. Elsewhere, it appears the company will not be demo-ing BB 10 at the show - they will wait until MWC to do this.
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