The annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas gets under way this weekend with big announcements from gadget makers keen to wow and convince us they have the next big thing. But it's worth remembering that some of the promises and predictions made at CES are about as solid as many New Year's resolutions.
So as you see the gadgets announced and the promises flow from the CES show floor, take a moment to remember some of the bigger misses of CES 2012.
Perhaps the award for most optimism goes to the Google TV camp. The company had big plans to shake up the way you watched television, delivering YouTube and other Internet content right alongside your existing channels. Some of the biggest names in TV were behind the plan: Samsung, LG and Sony all promised Google-enabled TVs at CES 2012.
But fast forward 12 months and the selection of Google TV devices is pretty thin: a single TV from LG, and set top boxes from Sony and Vizio.
And talking of TV, does anyone remember the big MySpace announcement? The company declared its latest -- and as it turned out, not its only relaunch of 2012 -- would be on televisions. MySpace TV was billed as a video on demand service with a social twist: you can "discover, share and comment" on what you're watching with your friends. We're still waiting for it.
One prediction that fell flat on its face was the XO-3 low-cost tablet from One Laptop Per Child. The promised 8-inch tablet was to be a low-cost computing tool for students in developing countries. It would only cost $100, project leader Nicholas Negroponte said, but like most OLPC projects the grand pronouncements turned out a little too ambitious. By November, the entire project was canceled without a single XO-3 making it into the hands of a student.
Intel talked up its Ultrabook line of thin laptops at CES 2012 and talked down tablets. "People like to create in order to express themselves," Intel exec Mooly Eden said. They are not "consumption cows," he added, taking a shot at tablets, which are often viewed as mere content consumption devices. Twelve months later, the tablet market is going gangbusters.
Alongside the product misses, there were also announcements that turned out to be a little optimistic.
Take Huawei's Ascend P1, for example. Billed as the world's slimmest smartphone, the Android-powered device was to be available worldwide from April, but April just brought further launch details. It was out in some Asian markets, Latin America and Europe by the middle of the year, but the promised U.S. launch is still yet to happen.
And Belkin came to CES 2012 with good news for Mac users eager to make the most of the new Thunderbolt connectors that had begun appearing on Apple computers. Belkin showed off a dock that provided two Thunderbolt ports and a host of others. Originally due in September last year, it's still not on the market and now promised early this year.
The Consumer Electronics Show runs from Jan. 8 to 11. Most of the major news from product vendors will come during events on Jan. 6 and 7.
Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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