Next week at CES every tech company in the world is going to cram under one roof and show off all their products that they hope will change the world. Well every company except Apple that is.
Even though Apple won’t have a presence at CES this year, we’ll see their influence everywhere, from ultrabooks to smartphones. But the biggest influence Apple will have on CES 2013 is with a product they haven’t even released yet – the mythical iTV.
Everyone is scared of what will happen if Apple launches an iTV because it will give them a virtual monopoly on all consumer screens (smartphones, laptops, tablets, and televisions). So naturally we’re going to see a lot of Smart TVs as everyone attempts to predict what Apple’s going to do, and then try to get there first.
The Apple iTV is supposedly going to come with software that lets users access all their cable content and iTunes videos from one easy-to-use interface. It will also come with either motion controls like the Kinect or use voice commands like Siri. It will probably be ridiculously thin and have a brushed aluminium bezel. This is all based on unfounded rumors, but that doesn’t mean Apple’s competition thinks it’s unlikely to happen, so they’re going to adopt many of these elements into their Smart TVs for 2013.
We expect to see a lot of new TVs at CES that come with better UIs and advanced content integration. No one has perfected Internet video streaming to a TV set just yet, but everyone is going to try at CES. Some will use Google TV to bring better features to their flatscreen, while others will home-brew their own solution.
If we don’t see motion activated controls we’d be shocked. And there’s going to be many more 4K TVs than there was last year, but I think companies are going to be more focused on usability and adding advanced features to the TV, so that TV manufacturers can start eating into the cable networks’ profits.
Set Top Boxes
Not every company wants to build their own television set but they still want to be a player in the TV market. Intel may or may not show off a set top box at CES that can stream video to your TV via a subscription service while also including traditional content like sports. It’s been rumored that Microsoft will position the next Xbox as more of a set top box for the TV than just a video game system. All the big tech companies that aren’t making TV sets will probably come out with a set top box in the near future.
Some companies will try to innovate the DVR while others will be releasing streaming set top boxes that look like the Apple TV. We already have Roku and Google TV boxes that compete with the Apple TV, but we expect there will be a fresh crop of set top boxes that want to wedge themselves between your TV and cable service before Apple’s iTV has a chance to cut them out of the picture altogether. There should be some big companies jumping into the set top box game this year, and we’ll get a glimpse of their products at CES this year.
No, I don’t mean apps on your TV screen (although that’s coming too). I mean apps on your iPhone and iPad that will make watching TV better. We’ve already heard of a couple apps that want to bring augmented reality into the living room. Other apps are trying to become the Shazam of TV. And if someone can figure out a great way to integrate live Twitter commentary into a sports game or TV show while I’m watching it, then they’re bound to strike it big.
Along with Smart TVs, Set Top Boxes, and TV Apps, we’re going to see a slew of the same products become more refined and perfected. There are bound to be some crazy new TV accessories, as well as fancy sound bars that also have a Lightning connector and AirPlay integration.
The best thing about CES is finding the new and wacky stuff that you can’t even dream up but someone else did – like a closet with a built-in steamer, or a holographic iPad. There’s bound to be some magical new TV products to be found while we slosh our way through the dreary halls of CES, and I can’t wait.