Let us paint you a picture of the phone and tablet landscape at CES. A few weeks before the show, rumors leak everywhere and invitations to press conferences arrive in droves. Oftentimes, we know or can infer a great deal about the hot new handsets and slates we're about to see well before laying eyes on the Strip's neon glow.
That just isn't the case with this year's show. So far, we've received a single invitation to a phone or tablet-focused press event, and that's to AT&T's annual keynote as part of its tacked-on developer conference and hackathon. More will come, but the relative quiet tells us a few things.
First, that mobile hardware makers are late in finalizing their plans. More than ever before, CES must compete with hugely international Mobile World Congress, a riot of activity taking place in March. Instead of pushing to make a January deadline, companies whose production schedules slip can either turn to MWC, or host their own events and keep the spotlight squarely on their own products. We expect the big guys like Samsung and Amazon to save their 8,000-pound gorillas for other events.
Make no mistake, there will absolutely be new smartphones and tablets at CES. They just may not be the blockbuster flagships of years past. Keep an eye out for more devices from global companies that are trying to break into or expand their footholds in the US market. For phones, think Lenovo and ZTE. We'll see seasoned tablet regulars like Dell and Asus showing off some big guns, but expect a flurry of budget tablets from the likes of Alcatel and Acer.
Now would be a good time for Microsoft to make an appearance with a new Lumia device after buying Nokia's phone line. The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 is almost a year old, prompting speculation of a new model in 2015. Surely the Surface Pro 3 is more than handling its own in the tablet scene, but as commenters always point out, there's room for improvement. However, don't hold your breath. While a few Microsoft Devices reps may be at the show, there won't be any official booth or press conference.
CES 2015 will also bring a bundle of accessories for both large and small handhelds. Cases and wacky wearables that connect with smartphones are insanely popular at the show. Tablet accessories tend to revolve around cases, both for fashion and function, however many companies are starting to offer new ways to dock and mount you slate around your home.
And we'll definitely see more wireless Bluetooth headphones and speakers than we can count.
It's also likely that we'll get a peek at the power behind the throne of 2015 mobile products: the chips. Both Qualcomm and Intel have a big presence at CES. The former company is looking to continue its dominance of mobile chipset space, while Intel continues to diversify away from its PC roots as it struggles to get the "Intel Inside" logo on as many phones, tablets and wearables (including its own Basis line) as possible.
Though the details on what we'll see at CES 2015 are as murky as the winter weather, our vague ideas fit a familiar formula we've come to expect from the gigantic showcase. However, don't mistake our temperate forecasting for lack of enthusiasm. Keep an eye on CNET for thorough CES 2015 coverage and the latest news before the big show.