(By Bearemy Glaser) We're starting our annual trek out to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas today to get a sense of the latest trends that will have an impact on the tech investing world for the next year. In the coming days, we'll have plenty more on what we see there, but leading up to the show, the endless hype from public-relations firms and media outlets has been flowing in for weeks.
Tech is, of course, notorious for the level of hype it manages to generate. As I wrote a few weeks ago, the hottest, most hyped IPOs have recently been in the tech field. Sometimes tech hype is justified. Smartphones and the Internet have changed the way we interact with the world, and companies such as Microsoft(MSFT), Apple (AAPL), and Google (GOOG) have real sustainable advantages and cash flows.
But the hype is more often just that. CES is particularly littered with ghosts of vaporware, announced products or ideas that never actually see the light of day. This year will be no exception. Here are four ideas that are already being talked about ad nauseam as big trends for 2012 that could very well end up being nothing more than mirages in the Vegas dessert.
Ubiquitous 3-D TVs
This one has been knocking around for a few years now, and the big TV manufactures are trying again to convince consumers that now is the time to swap out their existing flat-panel TVs for 3-D models. The problem is no one seems to feel like the upgrade is worthwhile. There isn't much content available for these TVs, there is no good way to get the content, the TVs still have a decent price premium, and frankly people don't want to sit in front of their TVs while wearing 3-D glasses all night.
Now it is easy to see why TV manufactures would want to make this technology happen. It was relatively easy to convince people to ditch their giant tube TVs and replace them with sleek flat panels. Then as prices on the panels plummeted the adoption rate sped up even more, and now almost everyone who can afford it has swapped to a new TV. But now that this upgrade cycle is basically complete, the manufactures need to convince households that 3-D is worth doing it all over again. They almost certainly won't be able to do so. As TVs naturally wear out, 3-D models will work their way into living rooms. But it isn't going to be the bonanza the industry might want you to believe.
Faster network speeds have been the big buzz in the wireless sector, but 4G networks aren't ready for prime time yet. The first issue is network rollout.