There's a Scent of Apple in the Air at CES
Jan 11, 2012 5:00 AM PT
The 2012 Consumer Electronics Show is well under way in Las Vegas this week, and as usual, Apple isn't displaying any wares at the convention. But the company's presence is still palpable at the show, as its competitors in the tablet, smartphone and computer arenas show their latest products and invite inevitable comparisons.
Even the field of TVs is rife with Apple rumor. With Vizio showing off sets that will run on an updated version of Google TV, and Samsung, Sharp and LG all debuting sets with features such as "magic" remotes, it could appear as though many manufacturers are jockeying for marketshare before Apple launches its not-yet-announced television product or platform.
If Apple were to come out with an actual television, investors may be more likely to buy into a product that already has a content and data ecosystem in place. But if the company doesn't release anything soon, Google could get a head start on TV marketshare.
"Google TV is taking the lead as they are partnering with many TV manufacturers. [Chairman] Eric Schmidt has predicted that the majority of TVs will ship with Google TV by this summer," Edward Zabitsky, principal and CEO of ACI Research, told MacNewsWorld.
Voice technology, a category in which Apple made a splash last year with the iPhone 4S' Siri feature, is also a hot topic at this year's CES. After Siri won over plenty of mobile users, other handset manufacturers started to look into adding similar features to their phones. Last week, developers offered users of Windows-based phones an "Ask Ziggy" app that performs basic functions on speech commands.
At CES this week, Samsung announced a voice- and gesture-activated smart TV, shortly after LG announced a similar product. Intel revealed it will use voice-command technology from Nuance on some of its Dell and HP laptops set to launch later this year.
Apple did not respond to our requests for comment.
Strong 2012 = Strong Stock?
Sitting out CES once again hasn't displeased the company's investors. Apple's stock value is once again enjoying all-time high numbers after a brief lull during the past few months. Last October, the stock hit $426.70, and it beat that yesterday when it topped at $427.75.
The news led to calls to buy Apple stock, although rivals are still churning out strong competition in foreign and emerging markets, and the iPad faces possible tougher competition from Android and Kindle products. One of Apple's favorite sparring partners, Samsung, is also doing its part in the ongoing battle between the two.
"Samsung is clearly on the rise with rapidly growing profits driven by integration of many of their own components, such as displays, memory, application processors, etc.," said Zabitsky.
That's not to say the company doesn't still have room to grow. A report this week from Forrester predicted that the company's enterprise sales will jump 58% in the next year, estimating the company will sell $19 billion in Macs and iPads for corporate needs. Though Apple has rarely made enterprise a priority, and has actually killed off some of its products designed with enterprise needs in mindbut the Forrester report claims that the rise in Apple's corporate presence actually comes from its existing products, such as iPads and iPhones, and the consumerization of IT items.
With more people using tablets, smartphones and laptops to create workspaces on the go, the consumer product has also become a mainstay in the office.
"It's definitely a trend, and it's definitely something Apple is going to pursue. One of the less-noted implications of Steve Jobs' death and of Tim Cook taking over is that from Cook, he's aways been much more receptive to the enterprise market than Jobs ever was," Andrew Bartels, research analyst at Forrester, told MacNewsWorld.
Cook -- who will reportedly receive a $378 million pay package including long-term stock options for his 2011 compensation -- is open to creating interfaces with the business world in mind, said Bartels. The discount the company recently announced on buying iPads for enterprise needs is another indication Apple isn't going to let this trend pass it by, although it will most likely fulfill the need on its own terms.
"Apple is not going to let the enterprise market dictate its product strategy, and the design and build focus on the consumer and the person will prevail because it's been so effective and successful. But they can maintain that attitude and yet still build a business of providing products to corporations, while not letting the corporate ins and outs twist the product," said Bartels.
That could be a threat to more traditionally enterprise-focused companies such as HP and Dell, which have seen the rise of Apple's consumer products hurt their sales yet have banked on being better suited to serve the business community.
"Some companies such as Dell and HP have been counting on enterprise. They've been getting killed in personal products, but they still had corporate, but they can't retreat to that anymore," said Bartels.