Things I've learned: CES edition
Mobile still dominated CES but just not in the way we're used to
Marin on Mobile: Each week, Marin takes a deep dive into something that's intriguing him in the mobile world. Follow him on Twitter: @marinperez and let him know why he's wrong.
I'm safely at home after spending last week at CES 2013 and you should definitely check out all of our coverage of the Super Bowl of tech. Now that I've had a few days to reflect on the show (and rest my feet), I wanted to lay out some of the key takeaways I had.
Phablets are for real
Huawei took the phablet market to a new level with the introduction of the Ascend Mate and its gigantic 6.1-inch screen, but don't forget that the other major devices (Huawei Ascend D2 and Sony Xperia Z) had a five-inch screen and no one batted an eye. Large screen devices are here to stay and people seem to like blurring the line between a phone and tablet.
When I first saw the original Galaxy Note and its 5.3-inch screen, I thought Samsung was going batty. It was a well-designed piece of hardware, but that screen just seemed too large and unwieldy for real, day-to-day use. I thought it would be an interesting footnote in mobile history, like the dual-screen Kyocera Echo.
Fast forward to today and the Galaxy Note lineup is an incredible hit and screen sizes continue to inch up to make that original one seem quaint. I've also heard from a lot of Galaxy Note 2 owners who absolutely love their handset. I kind of get it too: It's a well-designed handset with powerful software and that extra size doesn't matter much if you throw it in a bag or purse. That extra size also means it has extra battery to last through the day.
The phablet space is definitely real and it will be fun to see how companies can innovate on this by more than just upping the display size.
It's still about mobile
HTC, LG, Samsung, Nokia and others are waiting until Mobile World Congress or later to make their flagship handset announcements but mobile was still a major part of CES. It just wasn't in the traditional sense.
CES is focused around gadgets that people buy but one major theme was connecting nearly everything with your phone or tablets. Samsung introduced a top-of-the-line refrigerator with a touch screen and Wi-Fi and it can interact with apps on your phone. I saw an oven that was powered by Android, which could be controlled remotely. Even Ford opened its doors to a mobile-like app ecosystem.
This just shows how mainstream the mobile and connected world has become and this trend will continue to accelerate.
Don't sleep on Qualcomm
Qualcomm is one of the reasons this connectivity trend will accelerate and despite the drubbing it has taken in the press for its odd keynote, I believe this was its coming-out party.
Let's talk about the keynote. Sure, it was silly, there was some bad acting and some cringe-worthy product integration guests (the actress from Star Trek obviously did not want to be there) but it wasn't that bad. Absurd? Maybe a little, but this is also a place where journalists wait an hour and a half in line to watch Samsung give a live advertisement of its connected fridge.
Other than that, we had some real news in the announcement of the Snapdragon 800 lineup and its release date in products will be in the second half of this year. The Tricorder X Prize was launched and this could actually lead to some incredible breakthroughs in mobile health technology. And how are people complaining about Big Bird? My three-year-old niece would love that app he and his "birdkateer" demonstrated.
But more importantly, I thought Qualcomm really demonstrated how it has products and technologies that can appeal to Steve Ballmer, Big Bird, Desmond Tutu and everyone in between. It may need a bit more fine-tuning on the presentation but rest assured that you will be hearing from Qualcomm at future CES keynotes.