TMO at CES: What to Watch for in 2012

The Mac Observer is packing up and heading out to the Consumer Electronics Show again, and we’ll be scouring the massive expo halls to find the latest and greatest in tech. This year, just like last, it already looks like the common theme for companies is to try to catch up with Apple, or even out-Apple Apple, and the show hasn’t even started yet.

CES 2012

Last year, it seemed practically every company at CES had their own version of they hoped would be the “iPad killer” tablet, and most of those never took off or were killed before going to market. This year, we’ll probably see more of the same: A wide range of screen sizes, cheap construction, and old versions of Google’s Android OS that weren’t ever intended to run on a tablet device.

One trend we’re already seeing is companies touting Flash support as a major feature for their tablets. That probably won’t play out too well for tablet makers since Adobe has already officially killed — quite literally — Flash support for mobile devices.

The diversity in screen sizes will continue be a big headache for companies hoping to take on Apple’s iPad, too. Without any semblance of standardization both for screen size and resolution, it’s no small task for developers to code apps that look good across all Android-based tablets.

Android’s lack of a single store for downloading apps, like Apple’s iPad plus iTunes Store, isn’t helping, either, and we don’t see that changing in 2012.

We’ll be watching ferreting out as many tablets as we can to piece together the market’s latest response to Apple’s iPad.

Apple’s television is still nothing more than a rumor, but that isn’t stopping companies from trying to figure out how to beat Apple at the TV game. 3D was the big push last year at CES, and this year it may be again.

Rumors that Apple is moving into the television market, however, may be enough for TV makers to look for new ways to make their offerings more attractive to consumers. Internet connectivity is already available in many Blu-ray players and on some TVs. Google’s TV efforts are already underway, although with a luke warm response.

With the prospect of Apple moving into their territory, we may see more TVs adding at least some level of Internet connectivity or other features to help set them apart from the still mythical Apple television.

Smartphone makers didn’t expect the iPhone to be a success when it came out, and now they’re trying to cope with a market that Apple redefined overnight. Companies like RIM are having an especially hard time adjusting to the new normal in the smartphone game, although others are having at least a little more luck.

Google’s Android is showing up on loads of smartphones, and Microsoft is hoping to get a strong foothold with its Windows Phone operating system. Apple and Google may already be established, but it’s Microsoft that could be the next big player thanks to the innovations its upcoming mobile OS version offers.

Considering how many consumers are still using feature phones instead of smartphones, there’s plenty of market to go around. Don’t look to see a single mobile OS emerge as the only leader this year, but keep an eye on Microsoft. 2012 may be the year we see three strong leaders in the mobile OS market: Apple, Google and Microsoft.

TMO will be scouring the CES expo floor all week looking for hidden gems, cool new products and the latest industry trends. Be sure to check back regularly to see what we’ve found.