Thursday, January 6, 2011

CES: Now the Fun Begins

Link to January 6 San Jose Mercury News article, "Internet coming soon to ovens and washing machines".

Excerpt:     Pretty soon, it may be all but impossible to get away from the Internet.

Net-connected PCs are already ubiquitous, and Net-loving smartphones are quickly becoming so. But whole new classes of products will be connecting to the Internet in the near future, if the announcements at the Consumer Electronics Show are any indication.

Among the new classes of connected products shown off here: televisions, car stereos, refrigerators and even ovens and washing machines. And that's not to mention all the new tablet computers companies are introducing at the show.

"We're approaching a point where not having an Internet connection in a consumer electronics product is becoming conspicuous. It's just an inherent assumption that these devices will be connected," said Van Baker, an analyst who covers consumer technology for research group Gartner


Perhaps the most surprising new Net devices in the works are appliances. Samsung showed off a new refrigerator that includes a touch-screen display directly above the ice dispenser that can access online calendars and photo albums. LG is developing "smart" appliances, such as washing machines and ovens, that can use Internet connections to download new, customized applications, such as a special wash cycle for particular types of clothes or special cooking settings for particular recipes.

Internet connectivity may or may not be a boon for consumers, but it could prove to be a headache for manufacturers, Baker said. Consumers are likely to expect manufacturers of Net-connected devices to provide frequent updates and new features long after the device has been purchased. That's something manufacturers haven't had to deal with in the past, he noted.

"Basically, it means that they're not going to be in the hardware business anymore. They're going to be in the hardware plus software plus services business," he said, adding, "most have no idea how to do that.

As we learned yesterday: But among the thousands of products showcased this week, only a handful will make it into consumers’ hands during the next year. The rest will hang in limbo as ideas.

Related articles:
Like clockwork, the CES buzz is building.  (1/5/2011)
The CES buzz:  HD TV in 2010, Tablets in 2011.  (1/4/2011)
It's that time of year again.  (1/3/2011)

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