Tech Trade Show Take-Aways

The Palm Pre
The Palm Pre

There is no shortage of tech news this week thanks to two big Tech Industry shows that drew thousands of tech analysts and enthusiasts to San Francisco and Las Vegas: MacWorld and the Consumer Electronics Show or CES.

It was at Macworld that Steve jobs made headlines with his introduction of the iPhone two years ago, and again with the unveiling of the Macbook Air last year. This year Steve canceled due to health problems, and his replacement Phil Schiller had no major news to announce, according to most journalists. The news that was announced, included new versions of ilife and iwork, a new 17″ Macbook Pro that utilizes Apples new unibody construction technique that includes a long-lived battery, and at long last, the retirement of DRM from iTunes music altogether, and a variable pricing scheme.

MacWorld was overshadowed by new innovations unveiled at CES in Las Vegas. As expected there were all kinds of new television technologies demonstrated including super-thin OLED televisions, and 3-D televisions. There were many, many new netbooks at the show. The one that created the most buzz was the Sony Vaio P, a very stylish netbook that fits in a purse of large jacket pocket. It includes a large keyboard and a display with a wide-screen aspect ratio perfect for movies and media. Thin and sleek was also in style at this show, stealing perhaps from the Macbook Air. Dell’s Adamo and MSI’s X-Slim fall into this category. LG gets the prize for novelty, with its new wrist watch phone that includes a media player, and text messaging capabilities.

Microsoft’s Steve Balmer used his time as Keynote speaker to sing the praises of the soon-to-come Windows 7. The Beta was released to developers this last Friday, and will soon be available to a million users to try out as well. The company that got the most notoriety from CES this year was Palm. Yes, Palm, the company that many analysts had written off, unveiled an impressive new smart phone and new operating system. The Palm Pre includes a multitouch display like the iPhone, plus a slide out QWERTY keyboard (see photo above), the Palm WebOS that runs on it includes all of the iPhone features and then some. Reviewers are very impressed and excited about this handset which will soon be available on Sprint’s network. For photos and reviews of the Palm Pre and many of the other technologies unveiled at CES, check out my news notebook.

Some take-aways from the tech shows:

  • While Apple didn’t blow everyone away this year, it’s past successes are carrying it through the lull. The iPhone and Air are still best in class.
  • Apple could benefit from adding a small low-priced netbook to its line. The new netboooks, especially the Sony Vaio P are tempting enough to make it almost worth tolerating Windows. I wonder how Linux would run on it? Hmmm.
  • Apple needs to get into the cloud, and now! Google, Microsoft, Adobe and others are investing billions in our cloud-based future and Apple seems to be looking the other way. If Mobile Me is Apple’s cloud, I’m worried for the future of the company.
  • Netbooks  are hot, hot, hot, but I predict that this trend will be short short, short. People can’t seriously enjoy typing on tiny keyboards and viewing half pages hunkered over tiny displays. As soon as regular notebooks come further down in price, the netbook craze is bound to end – except as a novelty or a casual accessry.
  • While CES saw some new Windows Home Server  computers, I don’t think the public is ready. It’ll be another year at least before these gain an audience.