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What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas

During my whirlwind trip last week to the US to attend the biggest consumer electronics expo of the year, CES 2007, and Apple's annual gathering of Mac aficionados, Macworld, my feeling that Australia is being left behind intensified.

Jeremy Roche, CNET.com.au

... unfortunately. During my whirlwind trip last week to the US to attend the biggest consumer electronics expo of the year, CES 2007, and Apple's annual gathering of Mac aficionados, Macworld, my feeling that Australia is being left behind intensified.

The Australian consumer electronics market is, of course, much smaller than that of the US or the UK. Still, it was next to impossible to find out if the vast majority of products on show would ever see the light of day locally.

Almost being turned away at the door of a major A/V manufacturer's press conference was even more frustrating, with organisers first seating US media, while international journalists waited in line hoping there would be a spare row at the back of the room -- so much for the show's offical name: 2007 International CES.

It was encouraging to hear familiar accents promoting accessories at the Australian-based Crumpler and BlueAnt stands, and in-depth tours led by many companies were insightful. In some cases, however, the ignorance of representatives was appalling. Asking a rep from a major phone manufacturer if one of its gorgeously slimline phones was of the GSM or CDMA variety, I received an absent stare, "I don't know, but it has a camera," and an accompanying smile.

Nokia was refreshingly helpful. Although reps couldn't say for sure if we'd see the N800 Internet Tablet in Australia -- the last version wasn't released here -- we can expect two new N-series phones to be launched before April this year.

The much-hyped iPhone unveiled at Macworld was amazing, but we are curious how it will be received in Australia when Apple launches it some time next year, given it will most likely be locked down to one carrier.

It remains a mystery whether we'll see Microsoft launch Zune locally, and it's unlikely that one of the biggest MP3 player launches at CES, the SanDisk Sansa Connect, will ever reach our shores.

Satellite radio was another major focus at CES, but here we have no such service, and take-up of digital radio has been poor.

In what area is Australia at the forefront of development? Are we lagging behind overseas markets? Leave your comments below.