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CES Feature Articles

January 12, 2010

Mobile Gadgets Dominate CES 2010

Digitally speaking, mobile is the “new black.”

At least that’s the way it seems in the aftermath of last week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas where the popularity of new digital devices appeared to be shaped – in large part – by their portability.

From Google’s (News - Alert) pre-show announcement of its new NexusOne phone to the myriad of mobile gadgets making their debut at the world’s largest annual toy show for geeks, the industry’s undeniable trend is to pack more bits and bytes into ever-smaller packages.

Of course, the march to miniaturization has always been a recurring theme of electronics industry innovation. But the trend seems more pronounced than ever this year as technology developers continue to find new ways to squeeze much of the functionality of laptop and desktop computers into personal media players that can fit easily in the palm of your hand.

The proliferation of devices that can squeeze such a wide array of applications into such small spaces lays the foundation for significant renewal and growth for the technology industry as a whole. However, don’t sit around waiting for the emerging market for mobile computing to impact the Business Video sector any time soon.

Remember, “fresh, shiny and new” doesn’t always sell in the corporate sector. And while that iPod – or even that iPod wanna-be – demos really well on the trade show floors in Las Vegas, emerging devices receive a less-than-warm reception in the halls of Corporate America.

Simply put, IT executives are skeptical of new devices that can cause them headaches. It’s easier to avoid supporting the distribution of video to iPods and similar devices than it is to go to the extra effort to make sure corporate networks can support the demand for a new generation of multimedia-driven digital sprawl.

In the world of business, the hype surrounding mobile video so far doesn’t match the implementation – or the interest in – of mobile video communications.
Only 18 percent of all respondents to an Interactive Media Strategies survey of 1,003 corporate executives conducted in the fourth quarter of 2009 report that their organization has implemented video podcasting for corporate communications. Another 23 percent say they plan to deploy video podcasting in 2010, but it should be expected that the proportion of organizations actually initiating the deployment of video podcasting will fall far short of this mark.

Either way, the deployment levels for video podcasting will fall far short of the three-quarters of survey respondents reporting that their organizations deploy online video distributed to the desktop.

Essentially, the hype of the trade show loses out to the cold, hard reality of IT executives doing what they think they need to do to protect their networks and their over-arching corporate computing systems. Those that manage corporate IT networks, at this point-at least, do not see mobile multimedia as a must-have corporate communications application.

This will change over time, of course. Some very savvy technology vendors are developing very useful platforms for driving mobile business video. And, institutional adoption very well may come in a hurry if the marketers aspiring to drive ubiquity for mobile multimedia computing are successful in their task.

And indeed, the more that executives experience mobile multimedia applications, the more they are likely to perceive it as a viable tool for business communications.

In a small way, we’re already seeing this trend take hold. The perceived deployment of and interest in video podcasting for business communications is much greater, for instance, among individuals with high household incomes than it is for those with lower average annual incomes, according to results from the most recent Interactive Media Strategies Survey.

Our working theory is that high-income households represent individuals more likely to have purchased personal media players during the past two to three years.

Among these groups that have already experienced personal media applications for iPods and other devices, the theory goes, greater interest exists in leveraging these devices for business communications. As high-income households run through the novelty of playing music and videos on their iPods, they ultimately graduate to recognize the personal media player as a device capable of displaying a wide range of digital content – even video designed to convey business information.

But while executives with annual incomes exceeding $150,000 per year are getting the idea, others have yet to catch up with this thinking. It may take awhile for everybody to get on the same page in terms understanding the multiple applications that are made possible with advanced mobile devices.

Certainly, the hype surrounding last week’s Consumer Electronics Show demonstrates that the mobile market is getting more and more ready for prime time. But, it may be awhile yet until everybody agrees that these mobile devices have a role during the work day, as well.

Steve Vonder Haar is Research Director for Interactive Media Strategies.

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Edited by Patrick Barnard

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