At the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, one company always comes up during the cocktail conversations and hallway chats of the show. Its presence looms large and can be seen everywhere, even though it never attends CES.
Ever since Apple unveiled the iPhone, the rest of the consumer electronics world has been playing catchup. Samsung, Acer, Dell, Motorola, HTC, Nokia, Microsoft and others have been making up ground in the smartphone wars (especially Samsung with the Galaxy series), but still trail badly when it comes to tablets. CES is the time when these companies (except Microsoft) announce their latest hardware and show them off to hundreds of thousands of industry shakers and tech enthusiasts.
But over the last couple of years, Apple has found a way to dominate the headlines during CES, all from the comfort of its headquarters in Cupertino. In 2010, it was the nonstop chatter about the fabled Apple tablet. 2011 was dominated by Verizon iPhone rumors. And during last year's CES, Apple launched the Mac App Store and stole some of CES's thunder. Oh, and don't forget about the still-a-mystery Apple TV that dominated the chatter last year. MG Siegler's right when he says that Apple has won CES the last couple of years without even showing up.
Will this year be any different? To answer this question, let's look at the latest from the Apple rumor mill in the last week alone:
- Is Apple moving A6X production from Samsung to TSMC? (I'd be shocked if it weren't)
- Is Apple testing iOS 7? (Most likely)
- Is Apple working on multiple iPhones of different colors and sizes? (I don't buy this one at all)
- Will the iPad Mini 2 have a Retina Display? (I think so)
- Is Mac Wi-Fi about to get an upgrade? (I hope so)
- Is Apple trying to acquire Waze? (unsolicited advice for my friends at Apple: Do what it takes to acquire Waze. Waze's team, data, and technology are stellar, and you'd vastly improve Maps if you acquired Waze.)
- And finally, is Apple building a Bluetooth iOS watch? (I'd buy one)
None of these rumors is as big as Apple TV last year or the Apple tablet rumors of 2010, but the sheer number of rumors will provide good conversation starters for this year's CES. None of these rumors will scare consumer electronic manufacturers like the Apple TV rumors did last year, though (they won't admit it, but they absolutely were scared).
I wouldn't be surprised if Apple decides to rain on CES's parade, however. It would be an Apple-like thing to do. A Waze acquisition or a well-timed announcement could be just the thing to put a damper on all the Android talk that will dominate the headlines next week.
Does Apple's shadow still loom over CES? Of course it does, even if it isn't as big as last year's shadow. The better question to ask is this: what will Apple do this year to steal the show?