LAS VEGAS—The Consumer Electronics Show is always a numbers game, and the ante is escalating for 2011. At least two dozen major TV set manufacturers will expand their lineup of Internet-connected TV sets and an estimated 80 wireless "tablet" devices will be on display. There are 300 official conference sessions, with 900 presenters and the iLounge, which showcases products and services for iPads, iPods, iPhones and similar products, is double the size of last year's space, even though Apple itself eschews CES.
For 2011, there will be increased visibility for Mobile DTV, new content for handsets and over-the-top Internet receivers, and UltraViolet, a cloud-distribution/security content distribution system supported by the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem, a consortium of more than 60 content creators and distributors. While 3DTV won't be as quite a sizzling as it was at the 2010 CES, all major TV set makers will continue to promote and expand their 3D products.
Samsung’s booth at the 2010 CES featured these towers of flat screens "Based on what we're seeing, including the devices that [were submitted for] the Innovations competition, things look strong," says Karen Chupka, who oversees CES as senior vice president-conferences and events for the Consumer Electronics Association. "Things look good for future technologies," she adds, noting that there are a lot of home networking and environmental control products from "companies investing in energy and environmental categories."
This vast array of technologies—and the regulatory policies accompanying them, including spectrum issues—will be front and center at a Jan. 7 Friday noon on-stage dialogue between FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and CEA President Gary Shapiro. Keynotes from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Verizon Chairman/CEO Ivan Seidenberg and Samsung President and General Manager of Visual Display Business Boo-Keun Yoon, will delve deeper into the business realities facing the cross-platform integration of technology and digital content/applications.
In addition to Hollywood and TV network executives, Chupka points out, "We have major advertisers and consumer brands speaking. That's what's driving the entertainment side of things." NBC has a expanded its exhibit space this year.
Video content plays a larger-than-ever role on the CES agenda, and Chupka has spotted interest from "more attendees from the entertainment and music industries."
Under the new umbrella "Entertainment Matters," CES will offer a series of conferences including the new "Media Money Makers" and a return of "Digital Hollywood" plus a new Cable Conference and Smartphone and Tablets Conference. In addition, a new "Content in the Cloud" conference will delve into issues such as "infrastructure, disruption and accountability" of cloud services in the entertainment and telecom industries.
The "Media Money Makers" conference on Thursday and Friday afternoons focuses on content monetization across traditional and new media delivery systems. Its featured speakers include Vivi Zigler, president of NBC/Universal Digital Entertainment, who will look at how shows migrate from broadband to broadcast delivery. George Schweitzer, president of CBS Marketing Group, will explore "Innovations in Audience Engagement" and Alan Wurtzel, president of research at NBC Universal will kick off a session on how to evaluate video audiences in the multiple platform environments.
CONNECTED & MOBILE DTV
The convergence of Internet delivery—including "cloud" services—is top of mind for many CEA exhibitors. For example, Matthew McRae, Vizio's chief technology officer, expects that 'net TVs are the big number in the year ahead.
"For 2011, the transition will accelerate as more app developers target televisions and the capabilities continue to grow in the platform," McRae says. "By 2012, it is likely that most televisions sold will include connectivity… connected TVs will be a catalyst that drives the reformation of the entire content industry from creation to distribution. The way consumers find and watch content will be different in the coming years."
CES Senior Vice President of Conventions Karen Chupka (L) and CES President Gary Shapiro The avalanche of Internet-connect video devices will inevitably raise plenty of questions about the market rollout. Sony will show new versions of its Bravia sets, which offer about 40 Web services in a "walled garden," and its new Google TV set with a full Web browser for access to any site (unless the provider has blocked access).
The Mobile DTV TechZone will be the CES base for more than a dozen device manufacturers plus the two major broadcast consortia that are developing national program services. The "Mobile Content Venture," which includes Fox, NBC, ION, Gannett and others in a joint venture with the "Pearl" consortium, and the Mobile 500 Alliance group station owners such Sinclair, Hubbard, Nexstar, LIN and Fisher) are expected to preview mobile-centric shows they will put on the air in 2011.
"You'll see some cool applications and serves that leverage this new platform, including advertising applications," said Anne Schelle, executive director of the Open Mobile Video Coalition, which is coordinating the mDTV TechZone. "There are significantly more devices than last year."
OMVC will launch a new section on its website showing viewers where they can find mDTV channels in their markets.
"It's going to accelerate significantly," Schelle adds. OMVC plans to release the full report from its "showcase" field trial in the Washington-Baltimore area during the past few months. "We'll offer qualitative and quantitative data about usage of the Dell netbook and the LG DVD-player."
With its gargantuan scale, CES has often been a navigation nightmare. Chupka says that its new "Follow Me" app for mobile devices is focused on new products.
"It's a lot more robust," she explains. "We're able to feed more information and news coverage so that it becomes much more useful to attendees." The app will be available to users of BlackBerry, iPhone and Android mobile devices.