CES 2011 Wrap: Show Winners and Losers

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Now that the Consumer Electronics Show is behind us, we have a pretty good view of what was huge and what went wrong in Las Vegas last week, at least from an investment angle.

Microsoft ( MSFT) kicked off the show, but did almost nothing there to help its stock.
2011 CES

This event used to be a showcase for Bill Gates and his monumental software company. That's back when Microsoft was a leader. Today, CEO Steve Ballmer conducts the event's keynotes, and his tone has gotten a lot more humble. Shadowed in tech by the prominence of Apple ( AAPL) and the continued rise of Google ( GOOG), Microsoft could not pull off the rock star performance.

Read on for a look at the show's best -- and worst -- themes.


The big star at CES: 4G.

The speedy wireless technology easily took the show's top honors for having the biggest impact across the industry. Hard-chargers like Verizon ( VZ) hailed its LTE network as the fastest in the world. Not to be out marketed, AT&T ( T) along with T-Mobile qualified their systems as 4G as well.

4G Devices

Flashing a little lightning to support all the 4G thunder, device makers like Motorola Mobility ( MMI), LG, Samsung, HTC and Novatel ( NVTL) unveiled LTE phones, tablets and wireless devices. Motorola was a particular standout, showing four devices including the Android 3.0 aka Honeycomb-powered Xoom tablet.

See the curious back story about Motorola's 4G Xoom chip and Qualcomm's ( QCOM) response.

Cisco ( CSCO), like Microsoft, managed to whiff Wednesday on its big chance to start regaining popularity on Wall Street. The Internet gearmaker, which also happens to be the leading cable set-top box player, was expected to used CES to unveil its Videoscape box, a new piece of Net-connected TV hardware.
Cisco CEO John Chambers

The Videoscape box is seen as the cable companies' answer to rising Net video competition from Internet players like Google TV, Microsoft's Xbox, and hardware shops like Roku. From a Cisco stock standpoint, it represents a new sales growth opportunity as cable companies look to upgrade the current fleet of set-top boxes.

So what did Cisco introduce? The Videoscape concept, but not the actual box. Cisco chief John Chambers made the promise we've heard from cable companies for a few years now -- "TV everywhere," or your video on any of your devices.

After his presentation Wednesday, we asked him about the missing box. Always polite and ever so chipper, Chambers said, "This was a software announcement. If you think about this, about 75% to 80% of this platform Videoscape is software."

That sounds reasonable, but you just don't expect big software announcements from the premier network hardware outfit. Cisco says it has developed most of the Videoscape software in house with the help of companies it has acquired.


One common theme at CES that seemed to run through a number of disparate categories was electricity.

The headliner of this trend was Ford ( F) and its electric Focus car that certainly had CEO Alan Mulally at his high-voltage best.

There was also an abundance of battery and charging technology designed to supplement heavy gadget usage and limited power capacities.

One outfit, closely held Technocel, demonstrated its $40 PowerPak rechargeable battery backup system for small gadgets. Acknowledging that many smartphones don't go a full workday on one charge, the PowerPak connects for an additional 3 hours of juice.

Another power player, Powermat, managed to secure a joint development with Qualcomm to explore wireless charging and syncing products.

With all these energy ideas floating around, maybe someone can find a way to recharge former CES king Microsoft.

--Written by Scott Moritz in New York.

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