Software and services aren't the main attraction at CES 2011, but that doesn't mean there won't be plenty of innovation at the show for the coming year. Of course, we won't know exactly what that innovation will be until we get there, but you can bet we have some ideas about it. Most notably, we'll be seeing even more of a shift from the computer to mobile devices, with companies aiming to keep you connected and entertained on the go.
The cloud expands
Mobile devices are great for both business and pleasure. There's just one problem: each one provides a finite amount of memory. If you want to have access to all of your documents, presentations, music, photos, and videos while you're on the move, subscribing to a cloud service such as SugarSync or Dropbox is the way to go. There is not a doubt in our minds that cloud computing will be an overarching theme at the coming CES.
More specifically, we expect to see new services unveiled at the show, with the possibility that some will focus on certain niche markets, such as music aficionados. Current services will likely expand their capabilities--including device compatibility--as well as offer increased storage, for both free and paid models.
Apps, apps, and more apps
With the smartphone's ever-increasing popularity, it's no surprise that apps are expected to make a notable appearance at CES 2011. In the coming year, we're likely to see more open app stores (like GetJar) that provide listings for various mobile operating systems. This will be an important progression for app makers given the fluctuating popularity of certain devices over time.
As a related aside, we suspect that QR codes--already used by app developers to provide links to downloads--will be abundant around the show floor. Doubtless, ever more businesses will begin to use the codes to provide contact info, product details, and direct links to websites. This website linking is especially critical to appeal to even more mobile users, since typing in a full URL is not ideal on the majority of devices.
More video, please
Fans of "Back to the Future II" have no doubt noticed that there are a few things the creators guessed correctly--and we're still five years away from the time the movie was set. And while video phones certainly will not completely replace voice-only calls by then, video chat will only continue to grow. More specifically, expect to see even more mobile apps that can handle the functionality smoothly, making full use of faster networks and integrated cameras. (That also means that more devices with front-facing cameras are imminent.)
Of course, video from the entertainment perspective will also continue to change. We've already seen a notable increase in online video viewing over the past few years, and services like Hulu and Netflix already offer successful pay-for-play models. (The latter even recently added an all-digital option to its service ladder.) At CES 2011, we could hear news about new content additions for the current services, or an entirely new--and more comprehensive--competitor could crop up. This video model will only continue to grow in popularity as more seamless hardware solutions make their debuts. In any case, we'll be surprised if traditional TV subscription models don't drop off in the coming year.
Have predictions of your own for CES and the coming year? Or is there something on your wish-list-of-the-future that you're dying to see? Comment away!