Smartphones, Tablets, Ultrabooks to Make Splash at CES: Canalys

By Nathan Eddy  |  Print this article Print

The influx of smartphones and tablets into the market creates challenges for consumers and device vendors alike.

A report from IT analytics firm Canalys predicted the key themes likely coming out of the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week, anticipating that Intel’s ultrabook category will capture most of the mobile product announcements, with up to 50 new devices expected. Tablet devices are expected to take a back seat to ultrabooks at this year’s show, as most of the tablets shown last year either failed commercially or did not even launch.

"Ultrabooks show some much needed, and long overdue, innovation in the notebook market and will pose a new threat to premium pads," said Canalys analyst Tim Coulling. "With increased battery life and portability, the continued development of the ultrabook will bring some of the features that consumers love about pads to the notebook space."

The drive toward ever more mobile computing is a trend that can be seen throughout the world. Canalys estimates that from the beginning of 2010 to the end of October 2011, nearly 54 million tablets shipped and, by the end of last year, over 772 million smartphones were in use around the world. Smartphones will further encroach on basic and feature phone shipments in 2012, especially in growth markets such as Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and, more recently, Africa, the report projected.

"The two leading tablet vendors in the U.S. market in Q4 2011, Apple and Amazon, won’t be present, but we expect many refreshes of devices shown last year," said Coulling. "Tablet sales are currently concentrated in mature markets, where many consumers will continue to add tablets to their collections of electronics products in 2012. We expect to see plenty of demonstrations of how the tablet can interact with other products, especially in the living room—the new tablet battleground."

Canalys principal analyst Pete Cunningham noted there is an appetite for smartphones among the young connected populations in these potentially massive markets. "Most vendors will wait until Mobile World Congress 2012 in February to reveal new smartphones; CES will therefore give some welcome attention and headlines to Microsoft and Nokia," he said.

In addition, the influx of smartphones and tablets into the market creates a new challenge for consumers and device vendors alike. Canalys Vice President and Principal Analyst Chris Jones explained that consumers want their content safe and backed up, while being able to access it from any device—whatever the platform or operating system—and they want to be able to extend that access to selected other people as well.

"At last year’s CES, we saw the trend toward content distribution and content access across multiple screens—phone, pad, notebook/desktop, TV, car, etc.—start to build," he said. "We not only expect much more development in these areas at this year’s show, but also an increase in multiple mobile and personal cloud solutions from traditional and new players to help consumers organize and secure their content."