A Venture through the South Hall

By Dave Sobel  |  Print this article Print

A trip through the main exhibit hall at the Consumer Electronics Show uncovers leading edge home gear that may find its way into the B2B IT channel and, perhaps, change the way business-users compute.

Scouring the South Hall for gems turned up a different tune.  South Hall presents much more of the "gizmos" I’m used to seeing.   I’m putting on Facebook the little (clearly unlicensed) flying "Star Stryker" which I’m sure no one at Skywalker Ranch has seen.  Cable clips and more cases for cell phones than you would ever need lined the pathways, and I was concerned that South Hall, which used to contain a number of IT vendors, simply didn’t anymore.

As I walked the paths, however, I came across Clear, who sell WiMax based broadband in some cities in the U.S.   They have packages for offices and "on the go", and have already deployed in Las Vegas.  While they aren’t available in Washington, D.C. yet (later in 2010, I’m told), I began to notice the trend in WiMax gear spread throughout the South Hall.   Sprint is clearly pushing their message of 4G, and there are a number of vendors all discussing 4G.

AT&T and Verizon may be battling it out over their 3G coverage, but it’s apparent there is a brewing battle in the next generation of connectivity.   As I’ve discussed before, bandwidth is going to be critical to the adoption of cloud computing based services, and the kinds of appliances that were displayed in the Central Hall are going to need more bandwidth.    Despite efforts, not everywhere has the kind of connectivity required to make always on connections an absolute.

The trend is quite early – while WiMax gear has been at CES before, I felt like I hadn’t seen as much of it, and certainly not seen carriers advertising it and making it available to the masses.   More and more devices required this kind of connectivity, in fact – Garmin showed a line of connected GPS units that query the 'net and delivery up to the date event, traffic and weather information.   

Without this kind of bandwidth, these devices won’t be nearly as successful. The same goes for the trend in cloud computing, and it’s promising to see carriers and vendors working to address this.  Whether or not WiMax will be this technology that enables the bandwidth needed is yet to be seen, but the fact that there are vendors fighting it out means someone or something will emerge as the option for the future.

The other trend was cloud services itself.   Multiple "online backup" services directed directly at the end consumer were on display.    Again, the specific services aren’t important.  What’s important is the fact that the market is pushing to the consumer.   As these services see more and more coverage in the media and in advertising, we’ll see more business penetration of the concepts.  If you’re happy keeping your photos and life memories backed up online, you’ll warm to the idea of your corporate data as well.

Neither of these two trends is unexpected.    They’ve been covered before.   This is simply validation of the trends on the business side, as other companies see opportunities in the consume space as much as the VAR community sees opportunities in the business space.   This is a maturation of the market, not a revolutionary new concept.

But the flying Star Stryker – that’s new.

Dave Sobel is CEO of Evolve Technologies, a Maryland-based solution provider, and regular contributing columnist to Channel Insider.


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