This week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is launching with a little less fanfare than usual.
Regular keynote presenter Microsoft announced that in future years not only will it stop doing its keynote, but won’t come to the show at all anymore.
Why is the 45-year old expo suddenly less important to tech business?
The issue is simple: companies want to announce products on their own timeline. CES is a several American football fields-wide hodgepodge of tech products.
As it has grown, it has become harder for manufacturers to stand out.Look at me
In past years, companies such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and even Apple would have shown off their flagship products at CES (especially in the 80s and 90s, when CES was a bi-annual show alternating between Vegas and Chicago).
Obviously, the Kindle Fire, Nook Tablet, and iPhone 4S were all released months before this month's expo, and it's too early to talk about their next products.
However, as you read this, 140,000 attendees are descending on Sin City. It still is a fascinating expo to experience and, if you are trying to connect with the tech elite, it is an excellent place to do business.
There are very few tech expos that draw this size of a crowd.Heavy tech, but light mobile
The biggest mobile tech announcements, if not debuts, happened late last year, so we’re not expecting any earth-shattering news from this week’s show.
Based on conversations with insiders, CES 2012 will be more about ultrabooks (super light notebooks) and Smart-TVs than cell and tablet technology.
On that note, Nokia will be showing the Nokia Lumia 900. As reported last week, the Lumia 900 is a bigger, 4.3-inch screen version of the Lumia 800.
Expected to be called the Ace in America, the AT&T-based phone will run Windows Mango.
Fujitsu is debuting the Arrows Mu, dubbing it, at 6.7mm, the world’s thinnest smartphone. Engadget says the Android device will run Gingerbread with 1 GB of RAM and a 5.1 MP camera. It just launched in Japan under NTT DoCoMo.Tablets a-go-go
Toshiba has announced it AT200 tablet - which at 7.7mm thick is the thinnest 10-inch tablet available. It's running Honeycomb and is Ice Cream Sandwich ready, although the price is high, starting from $530 for the 16GB model.
Acer announced a new Tegra 3 quad-core Iconia Tab slate, which has a high-resolution 1080p display.
Finally, Research in Motion will be giving hands-on with the new Blackberry Playbook OS 2.0. Equipped with the original OS, the device recently got slashed from $499 to $299 in America.
RIM hasn’t announced any Playbook OS 2.0 details yet, but we’re sure it is hoping it will boost the moribund 2011 sales.
Other companies we're expecting news from including Nvida and Intel, who both have press conferences booked in.
Stay tuned for more announcements as CES officially begins on Tuesday in Las Vegas.