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CES Goes Social for 2011

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- With tablets and smartphones taking the stage at this week's Consumer Electronics Show, the intersection between gadgets and social media is expected to be a big trend at the event.

As the number of users of social networking sites like Twitter, Foursquare and Facebook continue to snowball -- the social networking giant recently surpassed Google (GOOG - Get Report) as the most visited Web site in 2010, according to Web tracker Hitwise -- electronics can no longer afford not to have a social interactive element within them, said Carl Howe, an analyst with Yankee Group.

The ability to allow owners to socially engage with others, he said, intrinsically increases the value of devices by connecting users to people and things they care about.

The new areas social media is expected to cross at CES:

Social Television

Led by the much-hyped Google TV, several electronics makers like Samsung and LG are expected to announce devices that merge traditional televisions with Web browsers.

Many of these TVs will come pre-loaded with applications that allow users to update their Facebook status via the Web interface, send out messages to their Twitter followers and engage with friends remotely to share and comment on what they're watching.

"There's definitely a renewed attempt from TV manufacturers to crack the screen," said Noah Elkin, an analyst at eMarketer. "[They're] trying to evolve TVs into more connected devices that are used for more than just passive consumption of programming."

Even outside these Internet connected devices, television and social media are becoming more connected as shows have started to display viewer's Tweets within their programming. One of the most extreme examples was during the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards, where huge, on-stage screens streamed Tweets related to the awards show.

In addition, a number of mobile apps have surfaced like Philo, Miso and Comcast (CMCSA - Get Report)-owned Tunerfish, which let TV-viewers "check-in" to programs to let friends know what they're watching and post comments on social sites. Creators of these apps say that it's about more than users simply Tweeting what they're watching when; it's about allowing users to bond with a community of like-minded TV-watchers.
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