Cloud Computing Gets Top Billing at Consumer Electronics Show
People pessimistic about the world economy can take heart from the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) at Las Vegas, Nevada. Not only was the largest trade show in the Americas bigger than ever, it also managed to attract a record number of visitors. Over 153,000 footfalls were recorded over four days in January, flocking to stalls spread across 1.86 million square feet, or the equivalent of 32 football fields. And importantly for our readers, cloud computing had top billing at the show.
While cloud computing has often been promoted as a cost-saving, efficiency-maximizing panacea for enterprises, which incidentally is not far off the mark, the individual consumer has not been the focus of attention on cloud-related matters. Not any longer.
As the large number of announcements at CES 2012 that mentioned “cloud” showed, cloud computing has well and truly entered the consumer electronics domain. David Linthicum, writing for InfoWorld (http://www.infoworld.com/d/cloud-computing/why-ces-2012-should-have-been-called-the-cloud-electronics-show-184231?page=0,0) has outlined the reasons behind this plethora of cloud announcements.
He says that one reason is the desire for electronics manufacturers to differentiate themselves. With the gamut of choices on offer, the consumer demands something “extra” to patronize a certain product; often, its cloud services that provide that “extra” zing to the products. The second reason is the desire to convert a one-time sale to a continuous revenue stream; thus, in the same manner that utilities are charged by the month, subscriptions to cloud services can bring in the dollars long after the electronic device or equipment has been sold. Additionally, I believe that satisfaction with such service can prevent customer churn – the consumer may come back to the same manufacturer for the next model of the device. Thirdly, Linthicum believes that the proliferation of connected technologies necessitates the sale of cloud-based services. For example, manufacturer X, which sells mobile phones, laptops and tablets, can ensure greater brand loyalty by providing cloud access to share data across these devices.
Acer was one of the companies that announced the launch of cloud services at CES 2012. Although some analysts derided AcerCloud as a copy of Apple’s iCloud (See: Taking a Closer Look at the iCloud and iCloud: Present Situation), there’s no denying that Acer customers will benefit from this offering that would allow them to manage music, photos and documents across multiple devices. Lenovo also announced the Lenovo Personal Cloud, which it says will transform the company “from a “personal computer” manufacturer to a “personal cloud solution” provider that integrates hardware, software and cloud computing together.”
And it’s not only computer makers who jumped on the cloud bandwagon. Premium auto manufacturer Mercedes-Benz announced a new cloud-connected dashboard computer called Mbrace2 that provides access to 3G Internet, apps such as Facebook and over-the-air software updates. Commenting on the usefulness of over-the-air updates, Daimler AG Chairman and Mercedes-Benz head Dieter Zetsche said, “You might know someone who drives a 20-year-old car, but do you know anyone who uses a 20-year-old mobile phone?” Such use of cloud computing has been covered in an earlier two-part article (See: Cloud Computing and your Car – Part 1 and Cloud Computing and your Car – Part 2).
By Sourya Biswas