It’s never on the show floor, but usually Apple is a big part of the conversation.
Apple doesn’t normally have a booth or events at CES, but this year its absence went further.
Normally, Apple manages to be a big part of the conversation even without setting foot in Las Vegas. And while CES is never the place for new iPhones, iPads or Macs, it is often the place for cool products that connect to those devices.
This year, though, it wasn’t Apple that everyone was rushing to connect with. If there was a hot platform, it was Amazon’s Alexa, with many CES products either building in the Amazon voice assistant or adding their own capabilities to her skill set.
There were some new products for Apple’s HomeKit, but they were comparatively few and far between.
And though Apple itself doesn’t have a booth, there is a whole section of the North Hall of the convention center that is devoted to the companies that make Apple add-ons.
The large iProducts section of the convention hall boasted the usual array of cases and chargers, but not a lot that was really new or exciting. Perhaps the biggest area of innovation was around trying to replace all the ports Apple took away on its latest MacBook Pro.
If there was any good news for Apple, it was that there really weren’t a lot of killer products from any of its major rivals.
The tablet space seems to be on a years-long innovation hiatus, while most of the new phones at CES were niche products from bit players. (This year’s real phone competition kicks off with the new phones to be announced at next month’s Mobile World Congress).
The Apple product that got the most competition at CES was the Mac. While Apple has been slow to update its computer line, especially its desktops, there has been rapid innovation on the Windows side.
Dell took one of its most popular laptops, the XPS 13, and made it into a laptop-tablet convertible. Dell also introduced a giant new touchscreen designed to offer some of the capabilities of Microsoft’s Surface Studio for the rest of the Windows 10 ecosystem.
Meanwhile, Qualcomm introduced the Snapdragon 835, which, in addition to powering many of this year’s upcoming smartphones, will also be the chip at the heart of a new wave of power-efficient Windows PCs that come out later this year.
The ball is back in Apple’s court, especially on the Mac side, to follow through on Tim Cook’s year-end promise that more great desktops are on the way.
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Author: Ina Fried
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