Post-CES Editors’ Notes: Big in 2010 + Apple Tablet/iPhone 4 Details | iLounge Backstage

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Post-CES Editors’ Notes: Big in 2010 + Apple Tablet/iPhone 4 Details

As you probably already gathered, this year’s CES was a massive success: attendance was up, lots of seriously cool new iPod and iPhone products were debuted, and companies appeared ready to reverse the sleepy past year of uninspired releases. So much was going on that we decided to let the dust settle before sharing this list of five big picture things you should be looking out for in 2010—big topics of discussion within the Apple development community.

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1. Apple Tablet and iPhone 4. Though one might have guessed from media reports that Apple’s upcoming tablet device was casting a huge cloud over competitors, there was surprisingly little buzz about its specifics on the show floor—most companies were very focused on their current products, and waiting for the other shoe to drop with an official announcement from Apple. We heard whispers about what’s apparently the final tablet housing, which takes design cues from the iPhone, MacBook Air, and unibody MacBook Pro: it looks like the top casing of the MacBook Air and Pro, only smaller—roughly the same width as Amazon’s Kindle DX but a little shorter—plus space on the side for a surprising number of I/O ports.

 

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Apparently, the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro curves are carrying over to the next-generation iPhone, as well, which will resemble a shrunken, thinner bottom half of the MacBook Pro laptop casing, bringing Apple’s lineup of portable computers, tablet, and phones into visual alignment.

2. Enthusiastic Response to Both CES and Economy. Early in 2009, the prevailing wisdom was that the battered economy would improve somewhat by mid-year, and that the consumer electronics industry would start a real recovery during the holidays. The optimism and positive responses we saw at the 2010 CES appeared to validate this timeline, as third-party developers told us about better-than-expected year-end results, plus impressive new lineups that were more thoughtful and distinctive than the ones in previous years. They also committed to the 2011 CES with record speed, selling out the previous 25,000-square foot iLounge Pavilion space in only one day (!), and demanding twice the booth space for the upcoming year.

3. Cases Are Making a Big Comeback. iPod and iPhone cases didn’t evolve much in 2008 or 2009, and readers were as tired of reading about them as we were when writing about them. This year, cases are making a huge comeback thanks to new designs from a number of companies: Case-Mate and Uncommon—former Nike iD folks—both showed cases that could be customized with user-created or -submitted artwork. Speck blew people away with its incredible Special Edition lineup of Fitted, CandyShell, and SeeThru cases. Incipio had aisle-filling lines for its new Dotties case and debuted the impressive DuroShot DRX, unusual Q, and other interesting designs. SwitchEasy debuted an anti-scratch case called Nude that has far-reaching potential for the durability of future designs. And finally, XtremeMac launched some iterative but very attractive designs for both soft and hard cases. We haven’t been this excited about iPod and iPhone protection in a long, long time.

 

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4. App-Enhanced Hardware As Growth Area. Griffin and Belkin may have been first to connect App Store downloads to their accessories, but iHome made a huge splash with its iHome+Sleep app and multiple compatible alarm clocks, transforming the iPhone or iPod touch into uber-clocks with weather, sleep tracking, and Facebook and Twitter integration. Parrot provided an even more tangible demonstration of the App Store’s potential with its AR.Drone, which enabled iPhone and iPod touch users to control a toy hovercraft using touchscreen- and Wi-Fi-based Apple devices as remote controls. The challenge: Apple representatives at the show were actively pushing more developers to tie apps to future accessories, but the technical and cost factors involved in doing so can create a quagmire for companies. It’s going to be very interesting to see how this plays out in 2010 and 2011.

5. Awful AT&T Phone Service. When companies weren’t talking about their products, people couldn’t stop complaining—rightfully—about how terrible the AT&T service was in Las Vegas: even outside the Convention Center at various hotels, iPhones were failing to make calls, dropping calls after only seconds, and generally proving useless—voicemail and text messages weren’t sending or arriving properly, and web access was stopping before pages would load. Battery drain was staggering, too; users learned that they had to literally switch off 3G in favor of EDGE just be able to make telephone calls. Our editors from Canada and the United Kingdom couldn’t believe how slow and unreliable the service was, even when most of the influx of show-goers had left town. At some point, we stopped counting the number of people who were praying for AT&T’s exclusivity to end in favor of Verizon-compatible iPhones, but different people continued to have varying opinions on whether the issues were actually AT&T’s or Apple’s fault. We continue to think that the evidence strongly suggests AT&T is the big problem.

Comments and thoughts are, of course, welcome.

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Comments

1

I too was at CES and arrived earlier in the week. During the 2 days before the start of the show I had no problems receiving or making calls with my iPhone & ATT service.

Also I live in NYC and work near the Holland Tunnel. Away from work mainly in the West Village I rarely have issues. At work with the number of building and as it gets close to going home time my service gets worse & worse. But I also have to say the week between Christmas & New Year I experienced no service issues at work.

So with these two experiences I have to say the trouble is due to the number of users on a given cell tower at one time.

I can’t wait for the iPhone to be carried on other providers just so the load can be more evenly distributed.

Posted by Phillip Fuller on January 14, 2010 at 2:35 PM (CST)

2

Phillip, I’m happy your experience with AT&T has been positive.  Obviously some people must be happy with it.  I however, living in Silicon Valley, can confirm what many many others have said, which is that AT&T’s coverage really isn’t very good here.  I have constant dropped calls while driving the highways around here, something that didn’t happen anywhere near as often when I was on Verizon.  And data coverage is also spotty.  Both don’t seem to correlate to the number of bars displayed on the iPhone in my limited experience (often calls drop even if 3 or more bars are displayed for example).  No, we’re not all imagining it.

I too am looking forward to the iPhone’s availability on other carriers.  Even for those who stay with AT&T, I think we’d see improvements when/if this happens—I expect AT&T would have to be more competitive with pricing, I would expect to see them be more attentive to the failings in their network, etc.  Competition is good.

Posted by Fanfoot on January 18, 2010 at 10:50 PM (CST)

3

I agree that my reception does not correlate with the number of bars, which I don’t understand. Plus recently, my reception has gotten worse. When I first got the iPhone last Sept, I couldn’t receive calls at work, but it slowly improved with the network upgrade, until Christmas time I could pick up calls anywhere in the building. The last few weeks though, the reception has dropped significantly. I can’t send text messages, and have to find windows so that I can complete calls. It has become very difficult to use the phone, even though I love it.

Posted by hanuman3 on January 19, 2010 at 1:37 PM (CST)

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