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CES 2010: Streaming Leads Consumer Electronics Growth
At this year's Consumer Electronics Show, integration and service are the name of the game, with increased emphasis on mobile video and the digital living room.
Thurs., Jan. 7, by Tim Siglin

"2009 is a year none of us wish to repeat and now we look forward to 2010," said Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) President and CEO Gary Shapiro. "There is light at the end of the tunnel and it is the bright light of innovation."

That bright light of innovation is being led, in large part, by the integration of streaming services into home entertainment, mobile broadband and other portable devices.

Shapiro announced a forecast of overall consumer electronics sales in the U.S. in 2010 totaling $165 billion in shipment revenues. While this is only a slight increase against 2009, the consumer electronics (CE) industry will take the good news and move forward with opportunities to prove Shapiro's forecast wrong by accelerating innovation.

Heading into next month's Mobile World Congress, held in Barcelona, Shapiro notes that 2010 should see a rise in smartphone sales, which currently account for 30 percent of the estimated 52 million mobile phone sales being predicted for the U.S. market in 2010.

The CEA hosted a competition in mobile applications, a market currently dominated by Apple's 100,000 available apps but being challenged by the 10,000 apps available for the Motorola Droid, Google's new Nexus One, and a host of other Android-powered phones.

"Mobile Apps Showdown will feature the top 10 apps in five categories (Education, Lifestyle, Entertainment, Productivity and IT)," a CES release noted, adding that "all entrants will be acknowledged with write-ups, screenshots, and a 'Download Now' button on MobileAppsShowdown.com. The top 40 apps will have the opportunity to demo live from the Mobile Apps Stage in the North Hall at CES 2010 and have that video appear on the Mobile Apps Showdown website."

The mobile digital television (DTV) standard, A/153, was approved in late 2009, setting the stage for competition between over-the-air (OTA) television broadcasters and the mobile handset industry, which has been the sole player in the portable live television broadcast market for the past three years.

At this year's CES, there's a marked effort to show consumers the relevance of TV stations and free-to-air mobile DTV.

"The trends are clear that mobile devices are where consumers will be getting video," said Brandon Burgess, chief executive of Ion Media Networks Inc. "We want to be there to bring digital pictures out of the living room. That makes us more relevant to the 21st century."

According to the Los Angeles Times, 80 TV stations covering 38% of U.S. households have said they will roll out mobile DTV signals by the end of the year. Ion, which owns 59 television stations, will be joined by Univision and NBC Universal Inc.

For all the mobile goodness, though, there's a need for power, especially when streaming content over a 3G mobile network. While we're all waiting for that breakthrough in battery life where we don't need to recharge for weeks at a time, Energizer is one of several companies touting its solar charging solution.

Shown at last night's Digital Experience, a run-up to today's show opening, the company's Energi To Go SP Solar Power Packs is designed to provide up to 500 charges for mobile handsets and iPod portable devices. Energizer says these 1000 or 2000 mAh power units can charge from more than just sunlight, offering alternative charging from incandesent lighting.

Finally, the integration of streaming playback into living room devices has begun in force. Moving beyond BluRay players, which were 2009's foray into Internet-connected home entertainment devices, CES 2010 is a place where home theater manufacturers are showcasing integration of streaming capabilities directly into flat panels and even home theater AV receivers.

For instance, Sherwood is introducing both a digital photo frame with audio streaming—via Rhapsody and Napster streaming services—and a home theater receiver with local and internet-based on-demand content playback. The latter, the RD-7505N, uses Verismo’s VuNow Internet access, with content selection via a robust user interface to Hulu, YouTube, SHOUTcast, and CinemaNow content. In addition, the RD-7505N can also access video and audio files on a home network and play media from USB storage devices at up to 720p/60 resolutions.