Like just about everyone else, we are watching our spending here at IT Business Edge. So we didn't have a reporter on the ground at the just-concluded Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. And we weren't the only ones who took a pass. It looks as if some 110,000 folks attended CES, a drop of 30,000 visitors from 2008, reports The Las Vegas Sun.
Still, there were about 300 new exhibitors among the 2,700 showcasing products at the show. Some attendees found the thinner crowds made it easier to connect with potential customers. A sales director at NXP Semiconductors told the Sun he felt more productive and less overwhelmed than at previous events.
It wasn't just our travel budget that kept us away. As its name indicates, CES is mostly about the consumer and our focus is on enterprise IT. While the lines between consumer and enterprise tech are more blurred now than they've been in the past, the two are still different animals.
Still, I was curious about what we missed. (You may be similarly curious, if your company passed on attending.) So thanks to TechRepublic's Jason Hiner for presenting The Best of CES 2009, for Business. His list of nine items includes a tablet PC from Asus and a netbook from HP. Seems there are plenty of business folks warming to the idea of smaller, lighter, less-expensive PCs for work on the road. As we noted earlier this year, netbook sales grew 160 percent during 2008's Q3, an especially impressive number considering the down economy.
Also on Hiner's list: a wireless router that makes it simpler to set up small teams with 3G broadband, a USB display technology with all kinds of business uses, miniature projectors that sound like just the thing for sales types, a reasonably priced yet feature-rich digital scanner and an EcoButton that can boost eco-awareness among rank-and-file staff.
Hiner also can't say enough good things about Palm's new Pre smartphone and its operating system. It could be "the first real challenger to the iPhone in design, interface and smartphone Web browsing," writes Hiner. Of special interest to business folks:
Palm has also done an excellent job of allowing the communications and contact management software on the Palm Pre to segment or combine personal and business work, based on user preference.
The Pre also got lots of props from vnunet.com's Iain Thomson and Shaun Nichols. Their prediction: The Microsoft mobile operating system could be the big loser, thanks to stiff competition from not only Palm but from Google's Android and the BlackBerry and iPhone OSes. They also liked the skinny monitors seen on laptops like the Sony Vaio and elsewhere and the higher profile given to green IT.
Like IT Business Edge blogger Rob Enderle, Thomson and Nichols were underwhelmed by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Writes Enderle:
The keynote was technically a keynote and competently executed, but it needed to be exciting and it wasn't. And, I think, in a recessionary market, you really need to generate excitement.