SBD/January 7, 2011/Media

Electronics Industry Expected To Continue Growth In 2011

The Consumer Electronics Association, which produces the Int'l Consumer Electronics Show taking place in Las Vegas, Thursday projected the industry will show continued growth in '11, rising an estimated 3.5% to $186B in U.S. shipment revenues. The sum, if it holds true, would extend a rebound for the industry that began last year following a recession-fueled '09 that represented the industry's first negative year in roughly two decades. "2011 will be a good year," said CEA President & CEO Gary Shapiro. "The economy is slowly emerging. We're still challenged by things such as slow growth and high unemployment. But innovation will be the engine for recovery, and we must do everything we can to foster innovation."

Smart TVs continued to be one of the dominant talking points of this year's CES
GETTING CONNECTED: Internet-connected "smart" TVs, loaded with mobile-like app functionality, continued Thursday as one of the dominant themes of this year's CES. Samsung unveiled an array of content partnerships to bring live programming to those devices, as well as tablets. The manufacturer announced partnerships with Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Hulu to offer content from those outlets to its TVs and Galaxy tablets. The pacts represented a significant step toward addressing widespread complaints that Internet-connected TVs to date have not offered nearly enough functionality, streaming content, or ease of use. "We're radically changing the way our customers interact with their televisions," said Comcast Chair & CEO Brian Roberts. The Samsung alliance is Comcast's first with regard to smart TVs and represents a continuation of the "Project Infinity" digital content effort Roberts announced three years ago in his own CES keynote. Additionally, the Comcast Xfinity TV application will become available on Samsung's Galaxy tablets based on the Android platform, similar to what is now available for the iPad. Though Samsung has a keen interest in mobile devices, most notably through the Galaxy tablet, the alliances seek to reposition the TV as the dominant consumer electronic appliance. "Smart TV is the place where everything is converging," said BK Yoon, President of Samsung's visual display division.

TABLET TALK: Tablets designed to compete with Apple Inc.'s heralded iPad also remain a hot-button topic at CES, and in Verizon's keynote address Thursday, the company announced an alliance with Motorola to introduce the Xoom, an Android-based device that will seek to build on the pair's recent smartphone success with the Droid line. The Xoom, slated for release next month, will be the first device built on Google's Android Honeycomb platform, an operating system designed specifically for tablets. "We wanted our tablet experience to be better -- not just bigger," said Mike Cleron, head of Google's Android development team.

Several execs bullish on future of 3D TV
after '10 provided a key learning period
3D GROWTH: Several executives in a panel on 3D TV painted '10, the year the technology was introduced to the home, as a key learning period and one that will set up significant growth in '11. Sales of 3D TV sets last year did not meet initial expectations, and numerous questions remain with regard to consumer acceptance. But nearly every major manufacturer present at CES remains strongly committed to the technology. "I've been really quite encouraged by what I've seen here in the last 36 hours, particularly after several months of doom and gloom" around the industry, said ESPN VP/Strategic Business Planning Bryan Burns. Not surprisingly, among the needed corrections moving forward are lighter and cheaper glasses, more 3D programming, improved marketing and a far better experience for consumers at retail. "You bombard people with terminology they don't care about, and the credit card goes back in the wallet," Burns said. ESPN additionally announced plans to conduct a 3D production next month of a boxing event in Maryland in which the 2D feed for "Friday Night Fights" will be extracted out of the 3D feed. The move represents ESPN's first joint 3D/2D production, and one that if replicated will sharply reduce operating costs for 3D programming.

SPORTS SIGHTINGS: As in past years, numerous sports execs and athletes are present at CES. Haier, the NBA's official HDTV partner, featured Basketball HOFer Bill Walton and former NBAer Rick Fox. Pro Football HOFer Jerry Rice was on hand to trumpet a new dog-focused football video game, "Jerry Rice and Nitus' Dog Football." ESPN college football analyst Lou Holtz will take part in a 3D-oriented event Friday with Sony. And execs speaking on various CES panels included Burns, NBA Digital Senior VP & GM Bryan Perez, Buddy Media CEO Michael Lazerow, Fox Sports Interactive Media VP Bhavesh Patel and Exec VP of Turner/SI Digital ad sales Walker Jacobs.

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