<IT WORLD> Las Vegas sees a new dimension
By Martin J Young
HUA HIN - The start of the New Year signals the time of tech trade shows, and
nothing comes with a bigger bang than the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in
Las Vegas. Running from January 7 to 10, the annual smorgasbord of
technological gadgets has been showier and flashier than last year as the
economy seems to be on the mend and purse strings are slowly slackening.
A record 330 companies made it to the CES to exhibit their latest and greatest
products for 2010 and beyond; making the show is the place to be to get a
glimpse of new technology before it hits the market.
Intel, Apple, Microsoft and Google all vied for the attention of the estimated
110,000 attendants to this year's show. Highlights
included HDTV, LED (light emitting diode), and 3-D TV technologies which are
set to gain momentum, especially with the release of a number of high-profile
3D movies, such as James Cameron's blockbuster, Avatar.
A new range of netbooks and tablets offering better hardware specifications
from all major vendors is being showcased. The processor battles continue as
Intel and AMD muscle it out to get their chips into the latest portable
gadgets; lesser-known chipmakers Qualcomm, Marvell Technology Group and
Freescale Semiconductor are making moves on Intel's ground with their own
offerings. Their plans are pinned on the premise of people ditching their
desktops in favor of mobile Internet devices such as smart-phones and netbooks,
which are making remarkable market momentum.
Pipping Apple to the post, Microsoft announced its own Hewlett Packard tablet
computer as the two companies join forces to bridge the gap between laptops and
smart-phones. The buzz still surrounds a long-anticipated announcement by Apple
boss, Steve Jobs, later this month on his company's own entrance into the
An abundance of e-books or e-readers, which are set to be all the rage, were
also showcased, many of which were spawned on the back of Amazon's Kindle,
which took the market by storm in 2009. Sales of e-readers are expected to
double this year, so the likes of Sony and Samsung have also jumped onto the
digital bandwagon with their own offerings.
The strongest hype this week, though, involved Google's new smart-phone, the
Nexus One, announced on Tuesday, which pits the company against Apple and
former software partners. As we previously reported (see
Google comes calling, Asia Times Online, December 19, 2009), it seems
to be a move into new territory for Google.
An enterprising Asian media company has taken journalism to the next level in
Taiwan by creating tabloid-style animated videos of current stories and events.
Next Media Ltd, founded by entrepreneur Jimmy Lai, has already pushed itself to
the front of the tabloid-style print news business with Apple Daily in Hong
Kong and more recently in Taiwan, with a quirky blend of salacious stories.
This style is now making it to the company's online site in the form of
animated reconstructions of events that may or may not have actually occurred.
Next Media has a team of designers, animators and actors that produces about 20
videos per day for publication. In recent weeks, one of the animations
supposedly depicting the domestic scene leading up to Tiger Woods' now famous
auto accident has become a hot video on the Internet. The one-and-a-half minute
clip (which can be viewed on YouTube)
shows a representation of the couple arguing followed by Mrs Tiger chasing her
husband down the drive brandishing what appears to be a three wood.
The questionable ethics of such publications are clear, as the videos, albeit
animations, have far more impact than written reports or photographs. They have
attracted criticism from the West for this reason and criticism from the East
for containing too much sexual or violent content.
A company scriptwriter, Daisy Li, stated that readers can differentiate that it
is an illustration, and all of the Tiger Woods video was based on what was
reported on the wires and other websites. The popularity alone of this new
breed of digital sensationalism is enough to guarantee that more media
companies will soon try it out.
Browser wars are heating up again as Google's Chrome knocked Apple's Safari off
the third spot in the overall browser rankings last month. Figures released by
industry analysts Net Applications put Chrome at 4.63%, while Safari dropped to
4.46%. Microsoft's old clunker, IE6, finally fell to IE8 as the world's most
widely used browser. Surprising though is the fact that over 20% of web surfers
are still using IE6 and 15.5% IE7; with the sheer number of net nasties out
there, it is no wonder security companies have their hands full. All versions
of Internet Explorer currently claim 62.69% market share, with Firefox slowly
chipping away at it with 24.61%.
Martin J Young is an Asia Times Online correspondent based in Thailand.