Tuesday, January 31, 2012

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Here comes Android (again)!


The numbers are finally in for December sales and Android, once again, is showing just how strong they are. Tablet sales are showing the same growth pattern that smartphones did, Android is catching the iFruit company. Our regular readers know that Android smartphones, not iPhones, dominate their category and Tablets are headed down the same road.

In Q4 iFruit tablets dropped from 67% of the sales to 58%. Yes, that’s still a significant majority but it’s dropping, and rapidly! Android Tablet sales on the other hand grew from 29% to 39%. My prediction is that by this time next year Android will be the leader.

By the way, did you notice that the iFruit tablets dropped sales by11% and Android “only” picked up 10% of those sales? Why, you ask? Simple, here comes the juggernaut from Redmond! MSFT surged from 0% of the Tablet market to a massive 1.5%!! If you’re into math, that’s an infinite % growth rate. WOW!!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

CES Retrospective- Part 4

By Bayle Emlein

It is clear that CES and the nature of trade shows is changing. While CES may have claim to being the largest in the US, there are several that claim to be the largest in the world, depending on how you define “large” and the kind of “show” specified–industry, general public, combination. Nothing new about this kind of finessing with words. Through Steve Leon and the ShowStoppers presentations, international affiliations have been forged with the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and IFA in Berlin. Maybe I was just more sensitive this year, but I seemed to notice a preferential placement for German on CES informational signs. In the desert Southwest, a bit of Spanish seemed appropriate–as a matter of fact, the general lack of Spanish is a bit astounding considering that there’s a Latin continent and a half just to the south of us. (Did you know that Silicon Valley once belonged to Spain?) What >is< going on in Argentina? Is Brazilian Portuguese close enough to mutually comprehensible that we would not need a whole new interface? Since the demise of Comdex in Mexico City, no news on this front, so maybe I need to go investigate in person.
 
Looks like the entire Indian subcontinent is relegated to English. French, Korean, Japanese, and Chinese round out the official CES languages. French? French companies participated of course, but so did Finnish ones. Possibly a nod to our neighbors to the north? The Asian languages are obvious, and the SinoCES show in Qingdao looks really tempting. I wonder how much of it is in a language I understand. Could one of our readers illuminate me?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

CES Retrospective- Part 3

By Bayle Emlein

One new thing I did notice: QR codes everywhere. These abstract graphics that look Martian writing link you to a website, via a wireless connection. Most often the website is an infomercial. This saves the vendor tons of paper and gallons of ink by directing the potential purchaser electronically. In order to participate, the consumer must have a QR reader app on his her phone or tablet (your choice of several free for downloading) and snap a picture of the little rectangle. The graphic/photo redirects the phone to a website where one may view the promised advertisement in detail. Not sure if this is an improvement, but it is “different.” Since the users have had to become active in getting to the information (previously downloaded app, find phone, find camera, take photo, navigate to website), they are likely to be more engaged by the time they get to the website. But casual viewers are likely to not bother, whereas a well-designed flier might have caught some interest.

I also noticed a general lack of hype for any kind of product or service. Of course each company and developer praised their product to the heavens, but there was no show-wide technology fast-track to the future. In many ways, this was a real relief. Not that the floors and halls weren’t filled with vaporware and prototypes hoping to get enough pre-orders to become viable. After several years of promising us always-on portability, battery development noticeably quiet. Instead of better battery designs, the developers have been working on better power management. Developments in low power consumption Bluetooth are enabling internet-aware watches that would make Dick Tracy’s head spin. The portable charging gizmos that will add a couple of hours to your phone are smaller, lighter, and last a few calls longer. One more instance of incremental improvement that seemed like science fiction a decade ago and now is so embedded in daily life that it’s hardly noticed.
 
Microsoft announcing that 2012 is their swan song at CES was perhaps the major development of the event. Whatever their excuse (doesn’t match the Microsoft release cycle . . .), this will certainly tip the balance in some direction or another by next year. With so much lead time, that sucking noise we hear may be lots of other companies rushing in to fill the void. In a town where you can get odds on everything including whether the sun will rise, cabbies were already predicting that this will not turn out to be one of Microsoft’s better business choices.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Sony sensor announcement

We received this link from the CEA this week and felt it was significant. The original article is in the Wall Street Journal.

Sony Corp. unveiled Monday its next-generation image sensors used widely in smartphones, digital cameras, medical equipment and other devices that incorporate cameras, aiming to expand its already significant share of the fast-growing market for such components.

Sony's latest complementary metal oxide semiconductor, or CMOS, image sensors pack more advanced functions into chips that are smaller and more cost-efficient than existing ones, Executive Vice President Tadashi Saito, head of the company's semiconductor business, said at a press conference.

"We are two or three steps ahead of rivals," Saito said.

According to Sony's own figures, it holds the largest share of the world's CMOS image sensor market by value at more than 30%.

The company said it expects the new CMOS image sensors, which offer better image quality with a smaller chip size, to help it capture a larger slice of the market for sensors used in smartphones, where demand is growing fastest.

A conventional CMOS image sensor has a pixel section and circuit section on a single chip, which is then fixed on top of another layer of supporting substrate.

Sony's new sensors stack the pixel section on top of the circuit section, eliminating the supporting substrate to make the whole chip smaller.

Saito said smaller sensors allow for increased production capacity without the need for more facilities, as more chips can be made from the same volume of silicon wafers.

"The new sensors will make us more cost-competitive," he said.

The company said it will start sample shipments of the new sensors in March. Products utilizing the new sensors will hit the consumer market as early as the year-end holiday shopping season.

Strength in the CMOS image sensor business is crucial for Sony, which is struggling to turn around its unprofitable television business. It forecasts a group net loss of over $1 billion for the current fiscal year ending March.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

New Pentax camera

By Chuck Hajdu

Pentax has just announced their newest ultra-zoom camera. Here’s the press release:

PENTAX RICOH IMAGING AMERICAS CORPORATION announced the Optio VS20 digital compact camera today.   This versatile model features a high-power 20X optical zoom lens (28-560mm equivalent) and a second vertical shutter-release button with zoom lever for effortless portrait oriented shooting.  A vertical shutter release and zoom lever give the Optio VS20 a unique feature typically found on DSLR cameras, which lends itself to added stability at long optical zooms, as well as comfortable grip for such images as portraits, high rise buildings and architecture, monuments, trees, sports action, and panorama frames. The Optio VS20 even includes a vertical tripod socket for outstanding stabilized vertical support.  A new Handheld Night Snap mode also is introduced to capture beautiful images with minimal blur and noise even in low light settings.

The Optio VS20 body is built in a compact digital form factor, and offers several other advanced functions and user-friendly features including:
· A 16.0 megapixel CCD sensor with mechanical sensor shift Shake Reduction for stabilized, blur-free images even in low lighting
· A large 3.0 inch, wide view (approx. 170 degrees) LCD for easy image capture and review
· Auto Picture mode that automatically chooses the best camera settings
· Triple Shake Reduction (SR) for sharp, blur-free images and video
· Other new scene modes including Fish-eye, Sketch modes and a Stretch filter for more creative options

The PENTAX Optio VS20 will be available in noble black and brilliant white on www.pentaxwebstore.com for $249.95 in February 2012.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Olympus rumors


Sony has joined the fray to pick up an equity share of Olympus. The latest rumors say that Sony is very interested in tapping into the lucrative medical equipment market that Olympus has a nice chunk of. It would be a new market for Sony and one that has unlimited growth in a world with a rapidly aging population. Sony already produces the image sensors that Olympus uses so it could be a natural fit.

The battle for the digital camera parts of Olympus continue to be waged quietly behind the scenes also. Samsung, Fujifilm and Hoya (who just sold their interest in Pentax to Ricoh) are considered the contenders but no one is saying anything on the record.

Considering the state of Olympus management, it’s not at all surprising that there are so many rumors going around. They are in total turmoil and need someone to right the ship ASAP. If they don’t there are plenty of scavengers to pick up the pieces.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Can RIM be saved?

By Chuck Hajdu

This week there was a major/minor shakeup at RIM, the makers of BlackBerry devices. I say major/minor because that’s how it looks to me. Many people will say the resignations of the two co-CEOs is a major development but is it really. Both men are staying with the company in other roles and will still have a major say in what goes on. The man selected as their replacement is a good company man who says he’ll hold the line on what is being done at RIM.

When you consider two things, the value of their stock and their market share, you have to question this decision. Their stock has plummeted by 75% and their market share is down from over 30% to only 16%. Android is totally kicking their butts and the new CEO wants to continue down the same path.

In my opinion RIM has to do what HP did when they hired Meg Whitman as CEO, bring in someone with a totally different mindset. Many businesses and the Federal Government are still using CrackBerrys and NOW is the time to take the steps needed to retain those markets.
RIM needs to insure investor confidence and come out with truly competitive new products. The iPhones and Android devices aren’t going away and they continue to get better and better. Good luck RIM, you’re going to need it.

Monday, January 23, 2012

iBooks

By Chuck Hajdu

I’m trying to decide if the iBooks plan is going to work for the iFruit company. The latest products from Cupertino sound to me like an effort to control the book market the way they control the music market. The numbers that I found show that iTunes changed the music market for all time They now have 60% of the legal download market while  Amazon is a distant second at 13%. If they can do the same thing with books, look for their stock to continue to soar.

The announcement of iBooks 2 and iBooks Author sounds like an all encompassing effort to make them the sole source for text books and make them a major dealer in all other books. They’ve struck up deals with the three major text book providers and improved their software to make the iPad apps perfect for classroom use. Students will be able to do all of the highlighting and write all of the margin notes they do today in paper books on an iPad.

Every once in a while the iFruit company makes a misstep and goes into a market too early or with a bad product. I have a hunch this step was well thought out and timed. It may be just a few years before all students can ditch their backpacks and go with a slim shoulder bag because they no longer need to use large, heavy books and paper and pencils ever again.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

CES Retrospective- Part 2

By Bayle Emlein

Money, which is a very strange notion if you stop to contemplate the symbolic nature of the invention, is becoming even more abstract. Instead of working out the shared bill at the end of a restaurant meal, one has the option of signing up oneself and one’s friends/co-diners to haggle electronically about the balance of payments. Credit-card reader add-on devices for smartphones have been out for a while. At Showstoppers,  Intuit was showing their addition to the market. The Intuit Mint is the smallest of the devices I’ve seen, and with the Intuit name behind the service there might be some traction here for small to mid-sized businesses. Reminiscent of a time when shaving was a manual art and the razors were low-cost but then you were locked into buying razor blades, the gizmo is free, the service from Intuit is not though the charges are comparable to standard credit card transactions. 

This model allows anyone with a smartphone to accept credit cards, enabling many small merchants to use the payment option in an era when checks are obsolete and even parking meters do not require cold hard cash. All you need is a connection to the Cloud. Notice the assumption that every farmer at the farmers’ market has an iPhone?

While we’re looking Cloud-ward, let me comment on the growing assurance from the denizens of the virtual air that I, too, will be happier if I move my digital life to the ethers. From my point of view, this is a bid for job security for network administrators and server farm jockeys. Living as I do less than a mile from one of the major California earthquake faults, I would do well to get my data stashed in some other state or country. But the Cloud seems even more fragile than California real estate. 

There are stories going around (possibly urban myths) about folks who have uploaded their entire family photo history only to have the backup service cease to exist. So far whenever I have centralized my work life to depend on a centralized atmospheric base, some component has failed and the access I depended on has evaporated.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

CES Retrospective- Part 1

By Bayle Emlein

The 2012 version of the annual expo of the Consumer Electronics Association, the Consumer Electronics Show is no longer the largest electronics trade show in the world, partially limited by adamant refusal to admit “the general public.” Attendees must demonstrate “industry affiliation.” That maintains focus and also cuts out enthusiasts who would be happy to spread the word–any word–about anything half-way new or better bling that adds no functionality but improves the subjective user experience. 

The kind of “general public” who would make the effort to attend such an event is already cherry-picked from the general public who just wants to use a telephone to make a phone call. But adding them into the mix might provide developers with a bit of a reality check as to what is useful and usable and wanted in the real world (i.e., marketplace). As it was, it was very hard to sort out which items are already on the market, which are in the pipeline for pre-order, and which are a glimmer of an idea looking for an angel.

I did not see or hear any killer apps or devices being released at CES this year. But I did notice incremental changes. At least in the demographic that attends trade shows, smartphones and tablets are a given. It’s not a question of whether you have one, but which one(s) you have. And for the purposes of the trade show, how you bling it out. GPS is no longer news, so neither is finding yourself, your friends, or a restaurant. There are better devices and apps for doing so, or at least ones that claim to be an improvement. As long as your mind and your tastes match those of the developer, things are better than they were last year.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Kodak files for Chapter 11

By Chuck Hajdu

Kodak has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in order to reorganize. This is one of the least surprising filings in history because everyone who follows the industry knew this was coming. Kodak was always the 800 pound gorilla in the room until..... they missed the the shift from film to digital photography.

A few years ago I met with the powers that be from Fujifilm in New York. At the time digital photography was in it’s infancy and they, much like Kodak, were convinced that film was still the preferred medium, and would stay that way for years to come. I argued strongly that film was a dying medium for 90% of users and digital would control the market early in the 21st Century. As time has shown, I was right.

Kodak management is clearly to blame for their failure. Companies like Canon, Nikon, Fujifilm and Leica all made the necessary moves to stay competitive in the market while others, like Kodak and Minolta foundered. Kodak has enough intellectual property to come out of this as a stronger and better company. What they need is a really smart management team to lead them out of the wilderness.

February issue

Our February issue was distributed earlier today. It has, as always, some great reviews and interesting articles. It also has the first part of our CES coverage. Considering the sheer size of CES and the number of off-site events we cover, it will take several issue for us to eventually let our readers know everything that we saw.

If you're not a subscriber already just let me know and you'll be added to our subscriber list.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Olympus cameras

By Chuck Hajdu

While I was at CES attending the PMA show I heard an interesting rumor that Fujifilm is trying to acquire the Olympus camera division. Considering the mess Olympus has been of late this may well be good news for lovers of well made cameras. Olympus has always made a rock solid product and they really have been very innovative.

If you haven’t heard of the problems at Olympus here’s a very short, quick recap. Their former CEO turned whistle blower and tried to oust the board. They fired him and he’s suing them. Olympus’ stock is in the tank and there is supposedly $1.1 billion missing from their books. All in all, a pretty bleak picture.

The Olympus PEN cameras are really wonderful little products. They were the forerunners of the current rage for mirrorless dSLRs and are great travelling cameras. I’ve used them for years and they are my favorite trade show cameras. I just covered CES 2012 with an EP-L1 with a 17mm f2.8 fixed focal length lends and it proved to be perfect. Easy to carry in a pocket, a lens that was fast enough to shoot without flash and excellent lens quality.

I hope everything works out well for Olympus, I’d hate to see them just fade away.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

SOPA

Well, it's SOPA protest day and I haven't found any of the sites I regularly use shut down. I'll keep track during the day and let everyone know what I find.

If any of our readers find their lives disrupted please let us know. We'll try to keep tabs and see just how effective the protest is.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

SOPA protest

We're running this announcement today in case Google decides to join the SOPA protest and takes this blog off line as part of the protest!!

If you haven't heard as yet, there is an organized protest underway to try to stop the SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act). Wikipedia and about 7,000 other web sites,will be shutting down it's English language version as a way of calling attention to the evils of SOPA. SOPA is legislation that tries to control the internet in the interest of putting money in the pockets of Big Media. The recording industry, the movie industry and the people who make their billions from products like that want more control over how people access media on the internet. It's purely and simply a big money gram by Hollywood types and it stinks.

One of the biggest problems, of course, is that the people who want SOPA passed are BIG campaign contributors and legislators want their money. It's an evil circle and all you need to do is follow the money trail to see where it's going.

We believe in a strong, open internet in support of Freedom of Speech. Vote NO on SOPA congress!!

InfoTrends


By Bayle Emlein

In the realm of photography , after a good run of a century or so, the film imaging industry has been disrupted. Jeff Hayes of InfoTrends reports that we've moved from the digital era to the connected era, and we are heading rapidly to an intelligent, mutually aware era. For many consumers in most situations, the camera on a smartphone is good enough. The loss in quality over a traditional camera is more than balanced by the convenience of the digital platform. Phones and tablets compete with paper as a final display medium and by the end of the decade the number of pictures stored electronically will dwarf those that reach paper. While users may still seek out paper prints for special occasions--weddings, graduations, and the like--the purpose of most photos is simply to share an experience and electronic media is faster and more flexible.

The number of images is growing at ten times the rate of the population. Pictures currently dwell in scattered locations on media, Facebook, the cloud. Jeff feels that the future of the "photo industry"  lies in helping consumers create desired products and results without bogging them down in a morass of  arcane technical processes along the way. Photo books, posters, customized printing: the industry is already vastly different than it was mid 20th Century, when it developed film into 4" x 6" prints. Stay tuned, and stay nimble.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Record Breaking CES

By Chuck Hajdu

The CEA has announced the final numbers for the 2012 International CES and they’re very impressive. Maybe the naysayers are wrong, maybe there is a new interest in trade shows! Here’s part of the announcement:

The 2012 International CES had more exhibitors (3100) hawking their wares across more space (1.9 million square feet) and attracted more people (153,000 attendees) than any other CES in the 44-year history of the event, the Consumer Electronics Association revealed in a statement released Friday.

In addition, more than 20,000 new products were introduced at this year's show, the association said, and more than 2000 news articles were written about innovations at the event -- a 33 percent increase over 2011.

Part of this increase is due to the addition of the PMA show with it’s hundreds of additional booths. Maybe this will prove to be a successful marriage after all.

Maybe.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Ice Cream Sandwich


Right now I regularly use 2 Smartphones and several Tablets that all use various version of the Android OS. Some use versions 2.2 or 2.3 and others use version 3.1 or 3.2. None of them uses the latest version, 4.1, also known as Ice Cream Sandwich.

From what I’ve read, version 4.1 is the best version of Android OS yet and I’m jealous of the people who have it already. I keep hoping that one day I’ll find that Motorola, or Acer, or Samsung has uploaded an ICS update automatically to my Tablets.

The ICS version of Android has apparently had a complete re-write and almost every facet of the OS has been upgraded and improved. I’m already a big Android fan and ICS should make me even a happier user. We’ll have to wait and see.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

CES 2012 - What did I like?

By Chuck Hajdu

The one question everyone who attends CES gets asked every day is: what did you like? It seems that everyone wants to know what is interesting and new. Usually I have an answer but this year I was baffled. Why, you ask? Simple, I didn’t see anything interesting and new.

Virtually every product I saw was just a revision of existing products. It was, quite literally, just more of the same. More Smartphones, more Tablets, more Netbooks (now called Ultrabooks), more TVs, etc., etc.

I’m beginning to really doubt the value of CES as a way to see what is really going to be “the next big thing”. It has become more of a showroom for products that vendors MAY actually produce if there is enough interest.

Friday, January 13, 2012

TaxACT contest

We just received this announcement from TaxACT:

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Day 2 of CES

Wednesday was the second full day of CES and it was a long one. After a late Tuesday night I had a 7AM meeting at the Venecian that I attended. After that I had a full day of meetings scheduled that were all over the map!

This is the first year that the PMA photography show is being held in conjunction with CES and looks like a bad marriage. After my 7-9AM event I was going to the PMA show which was located in the Venecian also. I asked the highly trained CEA staff where PMA was and they all looked at me like I was crazy. After exploring the entire area I saw a small sign indicating that PMA was behind the CES ballroom. That was the only indication that the show was there.

The PMA floor setup reminded me of the old Comdex area set aside for very small companies in the back of the Sands convention center. I was able to find the company I was looking for and got an excelent briefing on the photographic tripods. I'll have a blog on that soon.

My impression of how CEA handled the PMA show is a simple one: CEA wanted to try to hide the fact that PMA was even there.

When the big players in the photo industry, like Canon, Nikon, Fujifilm an Samsung, with their big lavish displays were literally miles away from the small fry the small vendors don't draw the crowds they need. In my opinion this was deliberate. CEA didn't want PMA competing with them.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thoughts on CES

By Robert Sanborn

At CES we are seeing a rapidly expanding use of social networks.  From sharing with friends and family to getting feedback on photos, travels, hardware and software shopping, to using the social network to see what products are hot and not.  We are way beyond Facebook and the drive is to get people immersed into the fabric of a digital family whether they belong to you or not or your friends or not.

There must be dozens of opportunities to be part of yet another social network.  Not only will you do it on your home personal computer or notebook, but also your tablet, iPhone, smart phone, and even sitting in front of your Television.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

IFA

By Bayle Emlein
Simply put: I wanna go to IFA. I want to go.

IFA is now the world's largest Consumer Electronics show, held in the heart of the world's largest market--Europe. Messe Berlin hosts the annual show at the end of August. Thisbyear (2012) the exhibition starts on August 31 and runs through September 5. That's a full six days scheduled. And then there are the pre-conference sessions and the post-show industry events.

Positioned in the development year to take advantage of preparations for the upcoming holiday buying season, it has more vendors and almost twice the number attendees. A significant difference between the Las Vegas-based CES and the Berlin-based IFA is IFA's close association with the Fraunhoffer research  institute. With around 60 separate research facilittites, Fraunhoffer is responsible for many of the developments that form the foundation of my digital world today.

Dave Leon through ShowStoppers is forging a link between CES and IFA.  I don't think that will result in one massive ├╝berparty. I'm looking forward to more depth in trade shows in the US. I can't speak for the rest of the world, though as I noted, I would love to be able to be in the position to make personal reports. But if you are planning a trip to Berlin or Hong Kong or Mexico City, you might want to check your calendar to see if you can coordinate with a trade show. As far as I can tell, there is a lot of English.

Wondering what IFA stands for? Internationale Funkausstellung. That's the International Radio Exhibition, another indication of how fast the world is changing while the language sounds the same.  I expect that the diference between the language and the experience of IFA is as the non-match between the acronnym and the current meaning of the show.

Wednesday morning at CES

Well I'm surviving. As my long time readers know, I have the world's softest feet. I get serious blisters at every trade show I attend and this one is no exception. Last night I got a doozie on my right foot and that's going to slow me down a bit today.

Last night was the big Showstoppers evening event and, as usual, it was great. They had over a hundred companies showing their products and services and hundreds of reporters covering them. We'll have a full report coming up so stay tuned.

I ran into a lot of long time PR friends and that made the enjoy the event even more. S&S PR had several new faces and a bunch of my old friends were there for our annual picture together. I'm going to post a lot of pictures soon and will let our readers know where to see them. It's time to get today started so we'll post more later.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Pentax/Ricoh meeting

This afternoon I had my annual meeting with Pentax to see what they have planned for the next year. I'm under an NDA so all I can say is that there are some VERY exciting new products coming in 2012. Keep watching this blog because I'll be posting information as I'm allowed to.

I was pleasantly surprised to have a meeting with Ricoh right after the Pentax meeting. If you didn't know yet, Ricoh bought Pentax from Hoya late in 2011 and so far both side seem very pleased with the deal. Both companies are committed to making the best possible photography products and this could make everyone happy.

Stephanie Covello of Ricoh, and a fellow Calabrian, gave me a great briefing on their products, including the awesome GXR Interchangeable Unit Digital Camera System. I knew very little about the GXR system ans was amazed by it. Think of it as a kinda-sorta dSLR but you don't just change lenses, you change a body/lens module. We're really looking forward to reviewing once CES is over.

One of the GXR module does take interchangeable Leica bayonet mount lenses and it's definitely my favorite. It will be fun to watch where the Pentax/Ricoh marriage goes. I'm looking forward to it.

Day 2

Day 2 is the first day on the show floor and my feet and legs feel it already. I'm taking a short break resting on a bench before I have my next meeting.

I started out the day at the Wynn  where I saw the latest products from Targus. As usual they have some beautiful, well designed cases for iPads, and also a few cases for Android tablets. Well have more on the new offerings from Targus soon.

Next I went to Golla to see their new bags. Golla has some of the most attractive and innovative bags and cases on the market. They have products for everything from tiny phone bags to really impressive camera bags. Thanks to Carolin Winter for the booth tour.

My next meeting is with Pentax and I'm sure I'll have a lot to tell everyone about.

Day 2 in Vegas

We're about to start day number 2 in Las Vegas covering the 2012 CES show. We'll be posting updates throughout the day and posting some quick thoughts on the big events we cover. Make sure you subscribe so you don't miss out on any of the news!!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Start-Up Debut- Part 3

By Bayle Emlein

Anybody remember the killer app that made PC's take off? That was VisiCalc. And what was VisiCalc? it was a spreadsheet. And what, you might ask, is a spreadsheet? You can look it up in Wikipedia or you can just take my summary: an opportunity sit alone and key in numbers so that the computer could compute the sum, product, or difference between two or more numbers. Getting the average was a whole other way of doing things and took a moderate level of programming skills. And that's the product that drove the move from mainframes. Whole tradeshows were filled with varieties of spreadsheet presentations. Obviously the general public did not make up the bulk of the audience.

That  was the killer app that drove the move from mainframes to individual personal, computers and the prediction that by the end of the 20th Century just the US might have up to 10 mainframe computers. What's the killer app that is driving the move from individual, personal computers to data appliances? Not an app, but the concept of interactive sharing of personal information, supported by apps or hardware and everything else that enables users as smart as the average 5-year-old to share their social experiences. Nowhere was that clearer than at Start-Up Debut just before the beginning of the annual Consumer Electronics Show that annually smothers Las Vegas.

For instance, travel has changed just a big since the days of Marco Polo. Sites like TravelDNA take you on a preview of selected destinations. Based on your indicated interests, places to stay and to eat and to play are suggested. Tour Wrist takes you on virtual tours. HipGeo lets you take your friends on a virtual tour via geotagging your photos, following any trip you upload. Across the country, across town--it doesn't care and your creativity and their interest in you are the key ingredients.

A couple of other thoughts to make traveling less stressful: Insure Monkey (IM) to pick out the best insurance for your needs at the best price. And Liquipel is an invisible plastic coating for your phone so that when you have to fish it out of the pool or you get sprayed by surf at Cancun, it survives without a blink and you can immediately use that same phone to let the whole world know what just happened to it. The concept of what 'computer use' is all about has clearly evolved. It's about everybody sharing everyday experiences. That was made clear speakers and projectors from WOWee, docks from B3Rfun, organizing everybody on the team with Tracky.

Tracky is to project management what VisiCalc is to online banking. Go to http://trac.ky to organize your personal, family, and business contacts in one centralized interface where the contacts do not necessarily overlap. You maintain control over who sees what without having to manage multiple accounts.
Someone at the event noted that despite reports of a terrible economy, no one at the Start-Up Debut seemed to be hurting. That's a self-fulfilling prophecy. The people with the vision and energy, social and technical knowledge to bring new products and concepts to market are doing quite well at creating their own prosperity while re-imagining everyday life for everybody.

Start-Up Debut- Part 2

By Chuck Hajdu

Next up is GENWI, short for Generation Wireless.. I spoke to Liz Dinapoli and she explained what GENWI makes cloud applications to allow users to create exciting products that are intended to be viewed on Tables and phones. They have multiple levels of apps for whatever the customer needs to create.

We ere very impressed with the quality of output we saw and if you’re involved in creating web content they may have a product for you. Check out there web site at www.genwi.com.

Start-Up Debut- Part 1




By Chuck Hajdu

The Start-Up Debut evening event at CES was held on Sunday night, two days before CES actually started. Several of our staffers attended and we expect to have a couple of pieces written on the things that interested them the most. Here are a couple of products that we saw from the same company.

WOWee  had several products on display. My personal favorite was the WOWee ONE Pro bluetooth wireless portable speaker. Magnus Hammick was kind enough to show me how well the speaker worked and it was very impressive.

The thing that makes the speaker so powerful is it’s ability to use any surface as a woofer. Naturally a device this small can’t have it’s own built in woofer so WOWee uses virtually and surface to serve as a speaker.

The table that Magnus used became a powerful woofer and really made a huge difference in the quality of sound we heard. It is very impressive technology.

By Bayle Emlein

Wowee!!! The name of the company is WOWee One. But IMHO it's WOWee Two.

The technology that makes your iPhone audible has been waiting to happen. Not so you can hear your calls, but so that you can share entertaining messages and your music. You don't still use your phone for old-fashioned activities like voice calls, do you?

The WOWee ONE Vue that I'm in lust with is the projector that shines your screen onto a wall or the ceiling or any other surface, making the image big enough for everyone to see at once. Why on earth would one want to do that? Just ask my co-worker who stops all progress to hand over her phone so that the new arrival can adjust the viewing angle in the lighting.

New parents tired of putting your expensive fragile device filled with personal info into the hands of casual acquaintances just so you can get an 'Oooh!' How much beter to get a crowd 'Ah' by plugging in a device no bigger than the phone itself.

No more lugging and configuring. If you've got room in a pocket for a phone, you've got room for a Wowee projector. The only downside I see so far is that it won't be on the market until February and I need it for a presentation next week.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Off to CES 2012


It’s Sunday morning and it’s off to Las Vegas once again for CES. Most of our staff that will be covering CES is on the road today so we can cover the pre-show events as well as CES. It will be fun to see everyone again and catch up.

All of our schedules are over-full but that’s the fun of covering a mega-show like CES. My personal schedule covers every venue imaginable. I’ll be in the North, Central and South Halls of the LVCC, the former Sands Convention Center (Now the Venetian), The Hilton, The Encore, The Wynn and The MGM Grand for CES and the Riv for a show before the show!! Whew, I’m tired just thinking about it!

CES doesn’t start officially until Tuesday but we have a lot going on before then. Sunday and Monday we’ll be covering the Storage Visions event at the Riv as well as several night time events.

We’ll try to publish blogs updates regularly so our followers will know what’s happening. This will be far different that our past coverage. Our readers had to wait for our ePub to be published before they would know what was happening. No more!! Follow this blog every day to stay in the know!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

TaxACT 2011 announcement

We received this earlier this week and thought our readers might be interested:
TaxACT 2011 guides users to maximum tax savings faster
Final Versions of TaxACT 2011, released today by 2nd Story Software®, give everyone easy yet affordable tax preparation, filing and maximum refund solutions.
"We've made it easier for taxpayers to do their taxes, from start to refund," said 2nd Story Software CEO Lance Dunn. "TaxACT has eliminated the hassle of switching software solutions and high costs of storefront preparation."
In addition to offering download and Web solutions, everyone can now prepare and e-file federal and state 1040 returns on the iPad® with TaxACT Online Free Federal, Deluxe and State Editions. TaxACT is also available in hundreds of retail locations across the country this year.
Regardless of how users did their taxes last year, key data from last year's return can be quickly transferred to this year's return. Deluxe users can import last year's TaxACT return, and new users switching from 11 other solutions can import a PDF of last year's return. All new users who don't import can quickly bring in last year's information with new Quick Convert™ in Free Edition and Deluxe.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Tablet Computer Sales

We recently read an interesting article on worldwide Tablet computer sales. According to the latest Tablet Tracking report from Futuresource Consulting global sales in Q3 2011 were 15.5 million units compared to 4.5 million in Q3 2011. Here’s an excerpt from the report we read:

The USA leads the way in tablet adoption accounting for 46% of global ownership, and exceeding an installed base of 24 million devices at the end of Q3. Europe has seen a slower uptake at just 4.2 million shipments in Q3 compared to 7.1 million in the US, however this still represents over 300% growth year-on-year.

In terms of brand positioning, Apple continues to dominate the global market. This is certainly true in the US where it accounts for over 70% of unit shipments, though Samsung, HP and Acer are beginning to gain some traction. Europe is more fragmented with Apple still on top but with other brands shining through, although the competitive landscape varies country by country.

While these numbers are impressive, I can’t wait to see what Q4 sales numbers are! It seems like everyone had a Tablet on their Holiday gift list and that should have produced tremendous results.

A year ago I wasn’t sure if Tablets would really catch on but I think that question has been answered emphatically. It’s still an iPad heavy market but there are enough excellent competitors to keep things going and the market growing.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Newer Technologies Power2U - Part 2

By Bayle Emlein

I haven’t had so much fun installing an add-on since the days of adding firmware cards to an Apple IIe. The instructions to the Power2U come printed in a reasonably-sized font on both sides of a single 8.5" x 11" sheet. They start off with a warning that failure to proceed correctly can result in permanent injury or death and that all local and national electrical codes must be observed. Not every installation will include the challenge of a building wired in two distinct eras, with several circuits helpfully labeled “lights and plugs.” But anyone who’s willing to wade into Real Warfare Northern Crusades or join Men Of War Red Tide will charge right ahead into the reality version of home wiring. Fortunately I had an live expert willing to make a house call on New Years Eve day. Adding to the challenges in higher levels of the Installation Game: the screws for attaching the wires to the Power2U could have been about 2 mm longer without damaging the equipment but giving the electrician a chance to capture the wire without invoking every four-letter technical term in two languages.

I have one Power2U installed. We (tech support and me) won this round, and as any gamer knows as long as you win it’s worth the play. Short of a (highly unlikely) repeat of last century’s major renovation project, I probably will quit while I’m ahead. But if I’m ever looking at remodeling or building at my house or anywhere else, I will certainly want to know if Newer Technology offers a contractor’s discount or bulk sales. This little gizmo adds more than its cost in benefit and is one more step in making my computing life about getting something done rather than managing the stuff needed to get something done.

I certainly hope Newer Technology is marketing to the hotel chains where I stay. These folks do remodel on a frequent basis. Finding a Power2U outlet in my room would persuade me I’d landed in the luxury suite. For a quick upgrade to your own environment, think about adding a Power2U receptacle.

Manufacturer’s Price: $29
http://www.newertech.com