CES to display new mobile chips, software

As the Consumer Electronics Show kicks off next week, much of the attention will go toward the chips and software expected to power the next generation of mobile devices, including phones, tablets and laptops.

Meanwhile, the TV makers that often dominate the show may be challenged this year to draw interest from consumers who already have upgraded to a high-definition, flat-panel display recently and may not be looking to dip into their wallets for newer technologies such as 3D and IP connections--especially in a slumping economy.

"Smart consumer technology is going to be a broad, key theme," said IDC consumer-tech analyst Danielle Levitas."That's all driven by chips and software."

Processors will be a major focus of the show. Semiconductor giant Intel Corp. will be showcasing its latest products for so-called ultrabooks using its Ivy Bridge family of chips, which Citi analyst Glen Yeung says will offer "better performance, battery life and cost."

The company is also expected to discuss further its Medfield chips being developed for smartphone, with potentially one or more handset-manufacturing partners to be announced.

"While there will be many companies vying for attention, this year we expect Intel to be the standout," Yeung wrote in a note Thursday.

Other chip makers such as Qualcomm Inc. and Nvidia Corp. will be a major presence--highlighting their own offerings for mobile devices.

Qualcomm is expected to showcase its Snapdragon chip set that is currently used in smartphones but could find its way into PC devices. Chief Executive Paul Jacobs is delivering one of the opening keynotes at the show Tuesday--with Intel chief Paul Otellini giving his own address later in the day.Microsoft Corp. will put in its last year as a major force at the event.

Chief Executive Steve Ballmer is to deliver the kickoff keynote Monday evening. The company may offer new updates for its Windows 8 operating system that is expected to launch in beta next month, as well as its Windows Phone mobile-operating system and Xbox video-game console.

Walter Pritchard of Citi said Microsoft will likely deliver "more subtle inputs" at CES this year as opposed to major product announcements. Most of its attention may go to partnerships with hardware makers across categories, he added.

"We expect the breadth of hardware partnerships should help investor confidence," Pritchard wrote.Some new phone devices also will likely be displayed.

Nokia Corp. is expected to showcase its new Lumia, and possibly other phones built for the Windows Phone operating system. LG is believed to have a possible device on hand using an Intel chip set.

CES typically features a large push by TV manufacturers such as Sony Corp., Samsung, LG Electronics Inc., Panasonic Corp. and Toshiba Corp. However, this year analysts say one challenge for the industry will be coming up with new compelling technologies that might entice consumers who only recently upgraded to a flat-panel, high-def set.

"The real problem is that consumers don't recycle their TVs that often, because they have a pretty long life span," said Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg."It's hard to make them thinner or cheaper at this point."

Several TV makers are still expected to showcase technology for 3D viewing, as well as Internet connectivity. Google Inc. announced on Thursday a list of partners rolling out sets using its Google TV interface, including LG, Samsung, Sony and Vizio.

TV makers are also coping with the possibility of a major new competitor --Apple Inc. The smartphone and tablet maker is widely believed to be working on a TV product for possible launch later this year or early next.

Apple does not participate in CES, but analysts believe the company is developing new user-interface technologies and content offerings for such a product.

Another area of interest will be peripherals devices that add capabilities to TVs and other media devices. Roku Inc., a privately held Silicon Valley firm, will be showcasing a product called the "Streaming Stick," which plugs into the HDMI ports of high-definition TVs and allows the user to stream content through their home Wi-Fi connections to their sets.

Also expected are many products designed to help users integrate their various "screens" that include TVs, smartphones and tablets.

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20 March 2023

19 03 2023