Posts tagged "Consumer Electronics Show"

We Bought $1.3 Trillion Worth of Mobile in 2011 Alone

At today’s CES keynote Qualcomm‘s CEO Dr. Paul E. Jacobs just said that consumers bought approximately $1.3 trillion dollars work of mobile devices last year. Trillion. With a T. That’s about 8.5% of the U.S. National Debt. Dang.


Samsung Sells Two TVs Every Second of Every Day

Samsung Sells Two TVs Every Second of Every DayEither one guy is buying hundreds of thousands of Samsung teevees a day to rig the stats, or we’re collectively Samsung-crazed in our television choices. According to President Boo-Keun Yoon, the company moves two sets per second, globally.

I’m no math wizard, but given population figures I’m guessing a lot of people are buying TVs for their parents and dogs and closets and spare TVs to use as coffee tables

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Posted by plates55 - January 10, 2012 at 8:07 pm

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uTorrent & BitTorrent Surge to 150 Million Monthly Users

uTorrent parent company BitTorrent Inc. just announced that the BitTorrent Mainline client and uTorrent have hit the milestone of 150 million monthly users. Together both clients increased their user base by more than 50 percent compared to last year, and the end of this surge is not yet in sight.

bittorrentWith millions of people using BitTorrent every day, the protocol has been the leading P2P technology from more than half a decade.

Despite massive competition from cyberlockers, BitTorrent continues to expand year after year, and not just by a little. Today, BitTorrent Inc. announced that their two flagship clients increased their user base by 50 percent, to more than 150 million active users a month.

Most growth can be attributed to uTorrent, which more than quadrupled its number of monthly users in the last three years. The ‘tiny’ BitTorrent client went from 28 million monthly users in December 2008  to 132 million last month.

“This marks an amazing milestone for our company and we want to thank our loyal users and partners for their support. Our protocol and software clients have become some of the most pervasive pieces of technology in Internet history,” says BitTorrent Inc. CEO Eric Klinker.

“We look forward to another exciting year of growth and we continue expanding our product lines to meet the needs of consumers creating and consuming high-quality personal media files on a broad range of consumer electronics devices,” he adds.

The last comment ties in to a slew of other announcements released by BitTorrent today.  The company is currently showcasing several “BitTorrent Certified” devices at CES, the world’s largest consumer electronics tradeshow  in Las Vegas. Through these partnerships BitTorrent hopes to add an extra revenue stream, and widen its user base beyond the traditional computer.

Aside from showing off BitTorrent-enabled routers, TVs and network storage devices, BitTorrent will also launch the world’s first certified set-top box developed by the Slovakian company Antik. The set-top-box allows users to search, download and play torrent files directly on their TV.

The advantage of the  BitTorrent Certified ecosystem is that it simplifies the downloading process for less tech-savvy people. Right now, many people drop out after installing a BitTorrent client because they find it too complicated to download and play content.

Whether these devices will be a success is yet to be seen, but there is certainly a large enough user base to tap into.

Based on the 150 million active monthly users BitTorrent Inc. reports for their clients, the total number of monthly BitTorrent users can be estimated at more than a quarter billion. And despite these already dazzling numbers, there is still plenty of room for growth.

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Posted by plates55 - January 10, 2012 at 12:24 pm

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With Search+, Google Fires Another Shot At Facebook

LAS VEGAS — If last year’s launch of Google+ was the search giant’s first shot in the social wars, consider the new Search+ product its Blitzkrieg.

Launched Tuesday, Google’s new Search+ initiative integrates results culled from your Google+ social network connections into Google search queries, a major step into providing relevant social content into the company’s namesake product.

When you search for a term — say, “Netflix,” for example — the new product will serve up private and public instances of “Netflix” pulled from people you’re connected with on Google+, including photos, links and status updates. In addition, relevant Google+ profiles, personalities and brand pages will also be folded into results.

So a search for Netflix could yield the official site, a news story about the company, a link to a friend from Google+ talking about Netflx, and the like. Further, all of these results are tailored specifically to those friends in your network, so each person’s results will be personalized and completely different.

See also: ‘Has Google Popped the Filter Bubble?‘ By Steven Levy

It’s a huge move for Google, a company which made its bilions indexing web pages with its advanced algorithms. The company’s origins are rooted in text-based search, using Larry Page’s now-famous “Page Rank” system to create a hierarchy of relevancy for when users entered search queries. Over the years, search progressed: Google added video, images, its Instant product, and the like. The early Oughts gave rise to an age of search, so much so that “Googling” was deemed a verb in our official English lexicon.

But as the decade progressed, another phenomenon began to take over — social. Facebook grew from a small site created in Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard dorm room to a global presence, now boasting over 800 million users. Twitter sees millions of tweets pass through its pipes monthly. Social network LinkedIn is one of the most watched companies in the Valley. And social gaming giant Zynga just filed a multi-billion dollar IPO in December.

And as users flocked to the platform, a different kind of search evolved. It was a search based on items which users didn’t even know they wanted. Facebook begat “likes,” a way of notifying others that you like (or are at the very least interested in) something. ‘Likes’ spread fast, and liking became another way to find new and relevant content from friends.

And as Facebook widened its reach over time, Google fell further and further behind.

“One of the signals that we haven’t take as much advantage of as we should have is that all of [our search results] were written by people,” said Jack Menzel, director of search product management, in an interview at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). “And you, the searcher, are a unique person, looking for info specifically relevant to you.”

So the introduction of Google’s new Search+ additions ultimately serve a twofold purpose: First, Google is using the strength of its insanely popular search product to bolster its fledgling social network. As of today, Google+ has a user base somewhere in the tens of millions — far behind that of Facebook. Considering the millions upon millions of search queries entered every single day, and the implications of folding Google+ information into those results, it’s a easy way to leverage the power of Google’s existing properties into beefing up its young one.

Second, it provides Google with an entire cache of new information relevance. Google and Facebook made headlines last year after Google alluded to issues with indexing Facebook users’ individual profile data for Google’s search results. In vague terms, Google search seemed limited in how much Facebook data it was privy to. And in an age where social sharing has grown far more relevant than ever before, that’s a huge chunk of pertinent information.

So Google has decided to go within for that data. User posts and data can now be searched for relevant content, and served up to individuals. While it’s nowhere near as extensive as Facebook’s treasure trove of personal data, it’s a fine start for Google’s push into social.

The new products could, however, yield a number of problems for Google. For instance, if a user searches for a recent New York Times article using Google and search results yield both the article itself and a post from a Google+ friend who shared the article, the user may click on the friend’s shared result, possibly read the headline and not end up going to the publisher’s site, instead sticking inside of the Google+ environment. That means fewer clicks for The New York Times, and few ad dollars in the long run.

Further, Google has never had much luck in the realm of privacy, and adding personal results to search queries could cause user upheaval. Privacy scares and Google aren’t strangers.

But Google insists these features aren’t going to be invasive. “With your permission, and knowing about who your friends are, we can provide more tailored recommendations, and search quality will be better for consumers,” Google Chairman Eric Schmidt told reporters last fall.

The company has built a number of safeguards into the product itself to appease privacy wonks as well. First, by default all searches will be secured by SSL encryption, protecting from others trying to peep your queries. Second, it’s all opt-in. There’s a little Search+ toggle button available on the page, so you can turn it on or off depending on if you want the personal results to appear. And finally, you can completely turn it off if you don’t want the new features integrated into your existing Google searches.

In all, it’s Google’s answer to recent developments in Facebook’s expanding universe. As Facebook opened up its graph to integrate better with application developers last year, huge services and publishers have flocked to the platform, and sharing has grown exponentially. If Google has classically wielded ‘search’ as its weapon, Facebook’s ‘sharing’ was its own tool of destruction.

But with Google’s new products, social search aims to become a stronger tool, integrating Google’s past strengths with what looks to be a very social future

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Posted by plates55 - January 10, 2012 at 12:14 pm

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Cars and Ultrabooks: a CES Preview

What to expect at the annual Consumer Electronics Show starting this weekend.


The annual Consumer Electronics Show begins in Las Vegas this weekend. It’s an annual festival of new gadgets, gaudy exhibition booths, PR spin, and long taxi lines that (supposedly) sets the pace for the coming year in consumer technology. I’ll be there for Technology Review, but can already take a guess at five things that I’ll find there.

Tablets, tablets, tablets

On paper, CES 2011 should have been the launchpad for serious competitors to Apple’s iPad, coming eight months after that tablet launched. Tablets of all levels of polish and price duly appeared, yet none has made much of a mark. This year will bring more tablets, many running Google’s refreshed Android operating system, Ice Cream Sandwich. Some of them will apparently resemble this reference design from Intel, while Sony’s Tablet S has been awarded one of the CES 2012’s Innovation prizes. All that suggests that the new contenders will be more capable, and it would be difficult for this year’s crop of tablets to do worse than last year’s. However, Apple will likely launch a new and improved iPad within a few months.

Cars as gadgets

What’s under the hood is increasingly about computing power, not just engine power. Carmakers will have a larger presence than ever before at CES this year, and they’ll be talking about similar technology to those showing off tablets: machine vision, cloud computing, and wireless data. All those and more are being put to use for everything from security features to better in-car entertainment. Ford’s CEO Alan Mulally has given a CES keynote for the last three years, and this year so is Daimler chairman and Mercedes boss Dieter Zetsche. As an example of how these companies are thinking like tech firms, last year Ford showed me a system that uses cloud computing to learn where you go and predict your future travels. At CES Ford will be showing off more novel ideas, many built into its Evos concept car, shown above. Mercedes has been slower than most of its competitors when it comes to features like smart phone app integration and Internet-connected navigation. Zetsche’s keynote could mark the announcement of new technology and ideas that might change that.

3-D TV (again)

Over the last few years, it’s becoming a running joke that 3-D TV is a major theme of CES but a technology met with indifference by gadget buyers. This year is likely to be no exception, and once again the problem won’t lie with the TV makers but with the TV industry. The 3-D TV sets that I tried at CES last year provided impressive viewing, but anyone taking one home will find there’s hardly anything out there to watch with an extra dimension. TV manufacturers are already previewing their latest 3-D-capable products for this year’s CES, with LG, for example, set to unveil a huge 84 inch 3-D TV. I’ll certainly try it if I see it on the exhibition hall floor, but expect that as usual I’ll hear little about 3-D TV until CES rolls around again next year.

Microsoft bows outwith a bang?

It’s traditional that Microsoft provides one of the biggest keynote speeches of CES, but this year will be the company’s last. All the same, this year’s CES will be a big one for Microsoft. One reason is that the event will be crucial in establishing Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 software as a legitimate competitor to Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems. Struggling Nokia threw in its lot with Microsoft last year and will be in Vegas, likely show off the Windows 7 phones that are the Finnish company’s only hope. Even more crucial to Microsoft’s future, the next major version of Windows—Windows 8—will also likely appear at CES. Despite the company promising a low-key final keynote, Windows 8 will surely get a mention on stage. Tablets running Windows 8  made by HP are rumored to be appearing on the exhibition floor, too. Microsoft won’t be leaving quietly.


Ultrabooks everywhere

Ultrabook is a term trademarked by Intel and is best understood as meaning “MacBook Air clone”; they’re very light laptops thinner than the width of a quarter. A few computer makers—including HP  and Asus—have already launched their first ultrabooks, but CES 2012 will see a flood of them. Ultrabooks may sound like (and actually be) a gimmick to make laptops sound exciting, but they’re interesting because they will likely combine features from smart phones and tablets with those of traditional PCs. The ability to remain in standby for long periods and wake up instantly is one example. Future models—maybe those shown at CES—are set to have features like the ability to sync e-mails and other updates while in standby and touch-sensitive screens for tablet-style interaction.

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Posted by plates55 - January 3, 2012 at 12:59 pm

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