Smart gadgets, lifelike video and pocket versions of laptop computers are expected to be Consumer Electronics Show (CES) stars as the annual extravaganza follows its gizmos onto the Web.
Undaunted by global economic turmoil, about 2,700 makers of TVs, computers, mobile telephones, chips and other technological wares will tout their latest innovations at the annual International CES in Las Vegas from Thursday to Sunday.
Added to the mix will be studios that make films, TV shows and music delivered digitally to devices increasingly tied to the Internet.
CES itself is not immune to online trends driving much of the technology it spotlights.
For the first time, CES has its own profile page on hot social-networking Web site Facebook and a team will fire off curt show floor revelations in the form of “tweets” on micro-blogging service Twitter.
A CES video team will rove the event feeding content for its own YouTube channel.
“We are a technology trade show and this is how our attendees are communicating with each other,” CES spokeswoman Tara Dunion said. “We are getting our perspective out there as to what we find interesting, and getting feedback.”
Known as a place for making deals as well as promoting hot new gadgets, CES attendees reportedly average about a dozen behind-the-scenes meetings each.
“CES is the place where the global technology industry comes together,” Dunion said. “Even though consumer is in the name it is really more tech oriented.”
Rumors regarding CES announcements include word that Microsoft might unveil a revamped Zune in a bid to knock Apple’s iPod from its throne atop the MP3 player market.
Palm is expected to introduce an overhauled operating system in what could be a last-ditch effort to reclaim former glory in a “smart” handheld device realm that it pioneered but lost to competitors.
“A big thing will be the launch of Palm’s new Nova,” said analyst Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group in Silicon Valley. “It could be a swan song for Palm or the rebirth of the company.”
Cable TV equipment supplier Digeo is also under pressure to deliver on an innovative digital media recorder that links to Internet services and TVs, NPD analyst Ross Rubin said.
Microsoft is likely to use CES for a “coming out party” for a Windows 7 operating system to succeed Vista software that has been a target of relentless loathing by many computer users, Enderle said.
Frugality in the marketplace and growing trust in using programs as services on the Internet instead of loading software into computers should fuel fiery competition in netbooks, mini laptops designed essentially for getting online.
“On the PC side, CES is going to be a netbook love fest,” Enderle said.
“Apple may have something online and Google is doing something,” he said. “The expectation is that Google has its own PC platform coming and will throw it on a netbook — they want everything to be online and the netbook leads itself better to Google than to Microsoft and Apple.”
Analysts said CES should also feature the introduction of a new mobile phone based on the Android open source platform promoted by Google.
US telecom firm T-Mobile launched the first “Google phone” last year.
Dunion said “uber themes” at CES are likely to include green technology trimming power needs of gadgets while employing more recyclable and non-toxic materials in construction.