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CES: Will 2012 be the Year of the Windows Phone?

2012 Consumer Electronics Show Showcases Latest Technology Innovations

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 10: The Nokia Lumia 900 Windows Phone is displayed at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center January 10, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. CES, the world's largest annual consumer technology trade show, runs through January 13 and is expected to feature 2,700 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to about 140,000 attendees. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

You can feel it in the air. Or just read about it on various websites and blogs. Microsoft, long considered a bit of an also-ran in the wild new world of mobile computing and devices, is setting up for an great 2012.

At the core of the enthusiasm is the Windows Phone, which is evidently blowing everyone away at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. There are two smartphone producers who are rolling out Windows Phones in conjunction with Microsoft: Nokia and HTC. Hopes are high, but this is Microsoft. But it's not exactly springtime in Redmond just yet.

Wired offers this roadmap:

Critics may be smitten, but Microsoft still has work ahead in winning the hearts of consumers.

[An analyst who follows Microsoft say] there are four main things Microsoft needs to tackle to ensure that Windows Phone builds momentum in 2012: significant investments in quality marketing efforts; winning “flagship” positioning with carriers for several devices over the course of the year; offering a range of devices on each carrier network; and convincing salespeople that Windows Phone is just as good as iOS and Android.

It looks like Nokia, at least, plans to instigate a heavy marketing campaign to make sure the 900 gets time in the spotlight.

CES has never been a completely accurate indicator of what’s going to succeed in the year to come. What journalists and bloggers fawn over, consumers may end up shunning in favor of something else.

However, with smartphones in recent years, the “most hyped-about” phones have generally ended up faring well with mobile phone buyers. And if that’s any indication, Windows Phone stands a good chance of fulfilling our expectations.

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The Gadget Age comes to an end

Report Reveals Motor Vehicle Gadgets Cause Accidents

Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

My old blogging colleague from my days at CBSnews.com, Erik Sherman, has some bad news for the gadget business:

For many years, experts kept talking about convergence and how amazing it would be for consumers. Well, it has finally arrived and, yup, it's pretty cool for regular people. But converged devices means that consumer won't need nearly as many gadgets, and fewer will be sold.

Erik brings this up as the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) opens in Las Vegas. He also references this dispiriting post from Kara Swisher at AllThingsD, which lays out some grim holiday sales numbers:

Blu-ray players: Down 17 percent.

Camcorders: Down 42.5 percent.

Digital picture frames: Down 37.5 percent.

GPS: Down 32.6 percent.

HDD: Down 25.1 percent.

Mice and keyboards: Down 7.1 percent.

MP3 players: Down 20.5 percent.

Multifunction printers: Down 9.9 percent.

Point-and-shoot cameras: Down 20.8 percent.

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Mark Cuban doesn't like smartphones

Mercer 18597

Robyn Beck/AFP

Joel Anthony (R) of the Miami Heat defends against Dirk Nowitzki (L) of the Dallas Mavericks during Game 4 of the NBA Finals on June 7, 2011 at the AmericanAirlines Center in Dallas, Texas.

At Dallas Mavericks games, anyhow. The somewhat hyperactive Mavs owners and semi-regular blogger writes about how he's always getting pitched about ways to bring smartphones into the Mavs game experience — and why he wants no part of it:

We in the sports business don’t sell the game, we sell unique, emotional experiences.We are not in the business of selling basketball. We are in the business of selling fun. We are in the business of letting you escape. We are in the business of giving you a chance to create shared experiences. I say it to our people at the Mavs at all time, I want a Mavs game to be more like a great wedding than anything else.

Bottom line is that he wants you looking up, not down, at almost all times. And he goes on to describe a pretty wild wedding. You wouldn't have time to do some appy smartphone things at such a wedding...er, Mavs game even if you wanted to.

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