5 hopes for the 2014 CES

The 2014 Consumer Electronics Show is about a week away and it’s time to publish my list of five “hopes” for this year’s show. This will be my sixth CES as an attendee, and the first one was back in 2006 when the economy was flying along and HDTV was everyone’s idea of the future. It was also back in the day when Apple held their Macworld show at the same time which tended to bum people out whenever Steve Jobs announced anything.

5. Microsoft bounces back.
After a year spend dissing Microsoft, I believe they’ve been properly humbled. The company that once spent its days steamrolling the competition has been brought down to the level of an afterthought, almost an antique. Where once Microsoft practically owned CES, they were barely mentioned last year and ceded their prime exhibit space to a Chinese TV maker. Microsoft may still be an arrogant company shackled by its need to support literally billions of legacy devices, but we need them in one way or other. If Microsoft were to shut down tomorrow it would be a national catastrophe. Sure the computers would work but since they need such regular updates it wouldn’t be long before they broke.

So, I’m hoping that in some way, Microsoft can find a way back to at least being a marginally interesting part of the scene.

4. A transformative Android device.
For years, mobile electronics makers struggled to find a way to break into the mobile device market dominated by Apple for a decade. Now, Android-powered devices make it easy to build a phone or tablet that competes nicely with that iDevice. Unfortunately that has led to a never-ending stream of undistinguished Android-powered phones and tablets. It’s time for someone to do something really interesting with a phone or tablet that isn’t what Apple’s already done. Samsung might be top dog, but honestly, don’t their devices look a lot like Apple’s?

3. Less expensive quad-band cell boosters.
I love cell boosters but even I’ll admit that if you want a booster for your home that does 3G, 4G, LTE, and voice for all the major carriers you’ll pay a lot. I’m hoping to see economies of scale kick in so that we can offer a booster that ticks off all the boxes for a much lower price. No word yet, but let’s hope.

2. Good location tracking within the show.
Normally I’m not terribly interested in iBeacons, to put it mildly. In the case of a bewildering show like CES it would be nice to have some sort of near-field communication that would not only help me know what I’m looking at, but also it would be nice to know where I’m going. I’m also going to hope in vain that the cell service doesn’t crash like it has in previous years.

1. More kooky stuff!
The recession really did a number on the “kooky stuff” market. You know, bluetooth-enabled coffee warmers, webcams that look like feet, robot dinosaurs, etc. Last year there were a few things like mind-controlled cat ears but honestly there wasn’t enough entertaining stuff like that. I want to see the Android-powered shower mat that lets you watch “It’s Raining Men” on YouTube while the water is hitting you. I want to see Kinect-controlled Roomba/Transformers that also act as water filters. Come on, isn’t that what you want too?