Tech giants conspicuous by their absences

TAKE a look at the roster of companies vying for attention at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show – Samsung, Sony and Intel – and the names not on that list stand out as much as those on it.

The most recognisable names in technology today – Apple, Google and Microsoft – will be nowhere to be found, save for the partner companies making iCompatible accessories, and the manufacturers of new tablets and smartphones using Microsoft or Google technology.

Apple has never had much of a presence at CES, preferring to use its own carefully choreographed events to unveil its products, and Google and Microsoft have taken the same road in recent months.

Of course, this presents an opportunity to technology’s underdogs, who will grab some much-needed attention, and there are bound to be some very innovative and important developments this year. The smartphone market – which has been dominated by Apple and Samsung in the last year – could be shaken up by new entries from the well-resourced Huawei and ZTE, and there is a growing interest in internet-connected televisions, which will be everywhere you look this week.

But we should be wary of jumping to conclusions about the state of consumer technology when the three aforementioned titans are not in play, such is their influence.

At last year’s CES, for example, the word on everyone’s lips was “ultrabook” – fast, light, laptops that were going to reinvigorate the flagging PC market. Fast forward 12 months, and PC sales are still in decline, while Apple’s iPad and Amazon’s Kindle tablets go from strength to strength.

And in 2010, one of CES’s hottest products was 3D TVs. Three years later, and manufacturers seem to have all but given up.

2013’s show will feature many of the most innovative products in technology today, but many of them may take some time to catch on.