As I write this, it's just after CES 2010 and just before Apple's big press conference, where they're expected to announce an Apple Tablet. Regardless of what they actually release, there was a clear message this year at CES: devices are changing and we need to be ready for them.
There were a few overwhelming trends at CES. If you've never been to CES, every booth unfortunately doesn't show mystical new technology. For every new and cool exhibit, 10 companies had nothing particularly interesting going on. So, while it was certainly fun and interesting, next year you might want to wait for the blogs to recap the "best of" exhibits, because I couldn't even find half of the products they were writing about while I was there!
Anyhow, we did see a lot of tablets, Kindle-style readers, and 3D TVs and monitors. These all offer new screen sizes, new types of content, and new methods of interaction.
I've been a long-time proponent of 3D in the home and how it might affect the Internet. Almost a full year ago, we discussed how 3D video could affect e-commerce and online experiences. We also talked about some early best practices around using 3D content on the Web.
While it seemed like a pipe dream a year ago, the reality is that 3D monitors and TVs will reach mainstream audiences this year. Several companies already have 3D laptops out, and every major TV/monitor manufacturer has affordable 3D display devices coming out this year.
Beyond just 3D content, several 3D Blu-ray companies showed off the cool 3D interfaces their players use. So much more information can be laid out in intuitive ways when we aren't limited to only two dimensions.
The question becomes, how will interactive devices and Web sites take advantage of this? Could you envision creating a 3D navigation to your Web site? Certainly, companies have talked about 3D worlds and such for 10 years, but what about an interface that allows navigation across all dimensions? Now that the visualization technology enables us to see it correctly, I'm eager to see what early adopters do to capture this market.
Kindle et al.
Another big theme this year was all the small e-readers. Most of the new ones this year have some kind of Internet connectivity. It remains to be seen how many will allow access to Web sites or other content.
Netbooks also had a large presence. As anyone in your Web analytics department will tell you, netbook screen sizes are becoming highly prevalent on the Web. While we've always been concerned with growing our Web page dimensions, we now need to consider how they look on much smaller devices. This not only includes netbooks, but possibly some of these e-readers that will enable Web browsing.
I joked last night with some friends that we all had tablets when we were in college -- stone tablets. Well, now it seems that tablet PCs are once again coming into vogue. Everyone at CES was talking about the possible Apple Tablet, even though Apple wasn't even at CES (now that is brand presence). Regardless of Apple, many computer companies showed their take on the tablet PC.
Along with the tablet comes (potentially) another set of screen sizes, but also new ways to interact with consumers. Like the iPhone, tablet PCs offer the consumer the ability to tap, slide, and use multi-touch gestures to navigate and explore content. Surely, all these tablets have Internet browsers.
The question for 2010 (and 2011) will be how (or if) Web sites react to this new platform. Will you create tablet-friendly versions of your Web sites and your content? Will you take advantage of these new forms of interaction to create truly unique and interesting experiences for your consumers?
It will be interesting to see which new platforms take off this year, and which die on the vine. So, don't jump on any bandwagons yet, but don't hide your head in the sand either. This year is already poised to have a lot of game-changing technology that will finally reach the mainstream, and it's up to us to figure out how to harness them to create more valuable interactions with our customers.
Questions, thoughts, comments? Leave a note below.
Until next time...
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