CES 2012: Will Microsoft flop with Windows 8, ultrabook release?

The Consumer Electronics Association has said it expects it’s annual trade show this week to draw a crowd of about 149,000 people. What can those attendees expect to see? Venture Beat’s Devindra Hardawar and Sean Ludwig report:

Verizon Wireless’s LTE 4G network was all the rage at last year’s CES, having launched just a month prior, and it marked the arrival of cellular networks that could finally achieve speeds comparable to home broadband connections. While Verizon has had its run of the LTE field for the past year, this year it’ll finally have some competition from AT&T and Sprint.

At CES, AT&T will be showing off its first run of LTE 4G phones, following the launch of its network  back in September. Leading the pack for AT&T will be the Nokia Ace, AKA the Lumia 900, which we think could turn the tide for Windows Phone. AT&T certainly has a lot of catching up to do, and we suspect that the carrier will be making some major announcements regarding aggressive expansion of its network.

Sprint, meanwhile, has said that it will have a major roll out of its LTE network in the middle of 2012, which will be followed by the arrival of LTE phones later in the year. The company was the first to launch a 4G network years ago, but it ran the slower WiMax standard. Now that LTE has proven to be faster and easier to deploy, Sprint has to jump ship from WiMax. We expect Sprint to divulge many more details about its LTE plans at CES.

Hardawar and Ludwig also write:

This year, the race is on for quad-core chipsets that will bring to mobile computing power on par with some desktops. We’re expecting to see plenty of devices featuring quad-core chipsets from many of the above companies at CES. Qualcomm has the newSnapdragon S4, and Nvidia has Tegra 3, both of which will be able to run complex 3D games and high-definition video without a sweat. Qualcomm has one of the keynote speech slots, while Intel and Nvidia have press conferences on Monday.

Furthermore, they write:

At CES, look out for companies showing off ways to connect your home and mobile devices with all sorts of media options. We expect cloud-based music and gaming to really get hammered into consumers heads, especially with connected TVs and mobile apps. Companies such as Verizon, Gaikai, Joyent , and Slacker will all be on CES panels discussing how to move forward with media in the cloud.

CES is bound to be a launching pad for at least a few consumer technology products. But what about the ones that don’t live up to the hype? Here are some the Associated Press says have the potential to be flops:

— Windows 8. Although it’s an important new product in 2012, the late-year launch means PC and tablet makers hoping for a CES boost have to wait. Windows 8 has attributes that will be good for tablet computers, but many analysts believe Microsoft has already lost this market to Apple.

— Ultrabooks. These are essentially Windows versions of the MacBook Air laptop, which are lighter and thinner but also more expensive. Expectations for ultrabooks are modest, however.

— Smaller, cheaper tablets. Having failed to catch the iPad wave last year with $500 tablets, some tablet makers will try to catch the Kindle Fire wave. But the profit margins are tiny at that price.

Could CES provide an opportunity for Google to kick off its “smart TV” revolution? Hayley Tsukayama reports:

or Google, the road to the living room has been particularly rocky. Google TV has yet to take off and suffered a slight setback when partner Logitech announced that it would stop making the Google TV-enabled Revue in November.

Google is planning to bounce back from that hitch in its plans, however, by expanding the number of its manufacturing partners. In a company blog post, Google announced that LG, Samsung, Sony and Vizio plus chipmakers Marvell and MediaTek will show Google TV hardware prototypes at the Consumer Electronics Show next week.

Announcing its partnership with several of the world’s largest television manufacturers (which also offer televisions in a range of price points) could be Google’s best shot at kicking off its smart TV revolution.

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