It’s no secret that this month’s Consumer Electronic Show, held at the Las Vegas Convention Center and expected to draw crowds in the hundred thousands, is one of the most important and anticipated technology events of the year. At the CES, manufacturers scramble to unveil the latest smartphones, laptops, and televisions. Experts asses these new products and offer predictions for the upcoming year. And consumers get their first up-close look at a wide range of previously rumored gadgets and devices. It’s no surprise that technology companies often see success at the CES as indicative of a profitable upcoming year.
So what can we expect at the show this year? Certainly we will see faster, lighter, and more powerful upgrades to almost every tech product out there. That is a given. But what are the main trends – in the computer industry in particular – that will be on display at the 2012 show? Or, more specifically, what can the show tell us about those computer trends that will dominate the industry over the next year?
It’s impossible to say with certitude, but here are the main trends we can likely expect at the CES and throughout 2012:
If last year was the year of the tablet, 2012 is shaping up to be the year of the ultrabook. Ultrabooks are Intel-regulated laptops that conform to specific regulations in the areas of thickness, weight, and power. With high performance standards and thicknesses less than 0.8 inches, these laptops are designed to compete with Apple’s MacBook Air. The first wave of ultrabooks was introduced last year – with the Acer Aspire S3, the Lenovo IdeaPad U300S, and the Toshiba Portege Z830 being some of the most notable releases – but a far larger glut of ultrabooks is expected for 2012. According to Intel, up to 60 new models will become available. Many of these will be introduced at the CES.
Google, Apple, and Microsoft have already ventured firmly into the realm of cloud computing and storage. It is expected that more companies will jump on board at this month’s CES, with Acer’s AcerCloud and Lenovo’s Personal Cloud Vision expected to be foremost among them. The AcerCloud will offer storage for photos, documents, pictures, and videos while Lenovo’s platform will focus more on synching files between computers, smartphones, and other applications. More specifics will surely be announced in the coming weeks. With cloud storage offering consumers the ability to forgo flash drives and businesses the chance to forgo finding data centers and contracting with Digital Realty Trust, the technology stands to grow tremendously in 2012.
Target User Focus
There was once a time where computers and laptops were made for one of just two end-user applications: home or work. There were personal computers and computers geared towards a business environment, home operating systems and business-oriented ones. Recently, computer manufacturers have looked to break up that bipolar focus by introducing products targeted towards more differentiated demographics such as small business owners and college students. This trend can be expected to grow in the coming year, with a particular focus on providing quality laptop products for elementary education that can compete well with the iPad 2. It is expected that Lenovo will be introducing at least one education-targeted notebook at the CES.
These are just three of the main trends that we will likely see at the CES and throughout the coming year. Of course, this being the technology industry, there are many unpredictable factors involved. It will be interesting to see whether ultrabooks, cloud computing systems, and targeted notebook computers will be as hot a commodity at the 2013 CES as they probably will be here in 2012.