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Why CES 2013 will be a show for the ages

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We’re not even two weeks into 2012, but it’s not too early to start making predictions about 2013. After all, we’ve already seen what lies ahead in 2012. Production and release roadmaps routinely leak, and there are enough rumors in circulation that we can piece together much of the year. Yes, we’ll see an iPad 3 and an iPhone 5. Android handsets will run amok. Tablets will get a little faster and a little more powerful. But for the time being, there likely won’t be any revolutionary developments. We’ll have to wait a bit for those, but they’re certainly in the offing.

If you didn’t make it out for CES 2012, fret not. You’ll be better off saving tour pennies and scouring the web for cheap airline tickets for CES 2013. Given what figures to develop in late 2012 and early 2013, it could be a truly game-changing show.

Smart TVs

Your current flatscreen? Chances are it’s pretty dumb. That is, it requires external processors to stream video and play games. That’s all starting to change, though. In 2010 Google introduced Google TV, which was just one step into the Smart TV arena. There will be many more developments there in 2012, as we’re already seeing at CES. But it’s 2013 when it could all come to a head.

Despite the attractiveness of a new technology, it takes a while to gain hold. Yes, plenty of people bought the iPhone in 2007, but it wasn’t until the 3G and beyond that Apple established market dominance. Ditto with the iPad. The original sold well, but that warmed up the market for the iPad 2. Smart TVs could go in the same way. This year could be just a warm-up for 2013. By then people will be more ready for the idea of their TVs doing more.

Android’s answer to iPhone

We know Android will continue to evolve, and each year they will bring better products to CES. But in 2013 they could be up against big challenges. See, people are already talking about the iPhone 5. They’re not just talking about incremental upgrades, either. They’re talking about wholesale changes that could forever change the smartphone game. In other words, there will be a reason why Apple went with the 4S in 2011 and gave the 5 more time to develop.

Two factors are at play here. First, Android will have to respond to Apple. They’ll have to show consumers that their handsets can do that, too. At the same time, they know that Apple plans something big, and it’s not as though they’re sitting on their hands and waiting for Apple to make a move. They’re working to make revolutionary changes to their platform, too. This could all come to a head by the end of 2012, leading to a huge CES boom in Android smartphones for 2013.

Windows Mobile and BlackBerry

While Android and iPhone absolutely dominate the smartphone market, they still have some competition in the rearview mirror. Both Microsoft, with Windows Phone, and Research In Motion, with the BlackBerry, plan to mount a surge in 2012. Both companies plan to launch their products in mid- to late-2012, but the desire to get it right the first time could push those efforts back to later in the year. That means more unveilings at CES.

For Windows Mobile, that makes sense. Microsoft does not manufacture the Windows Mobile handsets. Instead they license the operating system to manufacturers. It appears that RIM is trying a similar move. According to at least one analyst, RIM plans to license its BlackBerry 10 operating system. They’ll have their own handset, sure, but the bulk of the production will come from other companies. And those handsets could line up perfectly for CES 2013.

Big steps for tablets

Without a doubt, we have some powerful tablets on the market right now. The Asus Transformer Prime is a behemoth, running a quad-core processor while maintaining battery life of over 10 hours. It’s a juggernaut to be reckoned with, for certain. But we’ll see plenty more of those in 2012. But, again due to Apple, we could see even more in 2013.

Rumor has it that Apple will release two iPads in 2012: the iPad 3 earlier in the year, and the iPad 4 later on. We heard that last year, too, but it never came to fruition. Why believe it now? We shouldn’t, actually. But Apple could be planning for an early 2013 iPad. Maybe they won’t announce it at CES — they tend to do things on their own schedule, at their own headquarters. But we could know a lot more about the iPad 4 by then, which will lead to more speculation about other tablets.

CES is the tech geek’s yearly haven. Yet this year it seems a bit staler than in the past. The new products are there, and there’s plenty to get excited about. But it seems that 2012 will be a transition year. It’s a year when consumers will become more familiar with new technologies, and we’ll see gradual adoption. By 2013 the market could be primed, which will lead to the most exciting CES yet. I don’t know about you, but I’m about ready to book my flight and hotel.

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