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10:59 AM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman

5 Mobile Trends From CES 2012

Big displays, fast networks, and sluggish progress on mobile payments stood out among the notable mobile trends at the Consumer Electronics Show.

More so than any previous year, the mobile industry played a major role in shaping the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show. With carrier, handset, and tablet news a-plenty, mobile tech had the tech world talking all week.

Here are five trends that appeared in between the lines this week in Las Vegas:

2012 Will Be The Year of LTE 4G -- There's no doubt that LTE 4G was a huge part of the week's biggest news stories. Dozens of new LTE 4G smartphones and tablets were announced by manufacturers and carriers. In fact, Verizon Wireless revealed that LTE 4G will be a requirement in most of the smartphones it is to release this year. LTE will become a mainstream technology this year, and CES 2012 was its coming out party.

Bigger Is Better -- The smartphone market shows no signs of reversing course on screen size. Some of the week's most exciting handsets boast screens ranging between 4.7 and 5.3 inches. HTC's Titan II and Samsung's Galaxy Note are exceptional smartphones and their huge displays are a big (pun intended) part of their appeal. It won't be much longer before phone screens reach tablet proportions -- if they haven't already.

Feature Phones Are All But Dead, Long Live the Smartphone -- In years past, handset makers such as LG, Motorola, Nokia, and Samsung would have unveiled dozens of "regular" cell phones. Not so. In fact, there were hardly any feature phones announced at CES 2012. Instead, hardware makers introduced smartphones that will hit store shelves with $50 price points. It won't be long before feature phones are used only by the very young and the very old. Smartphones have taken over.

Mobile Payments Aren't Coming Any Time Soon -- One thing that was missing at CES this year: devices equipped with near-field communications and the ability to make mobile payments. The Samsung Galaxy Note is the only smartphone announced during the show that has the ability to use Google Wallet and make NFC-based retail purchases. The vast bulk of devices announced at the show lack NFC, and lack the ability to make mobile payments. This all but assures that NFC and mobile payments won't start to take off until nearly halfway through 2012.

Competition Is Alive And Well -- The mobile industry continues to thrive on innovation and competition, which was widely evident this week in Las Vegas. Consider T-Mobile USA, for example. Seemingly down-and-out after it failed to be acquired by AT&T last year, CEO Philip Humm was all over CES talking about the company's plans for the year. Humm's message was clear: We're not quitting. I heard that same message from Microsoft and from Nokia. Both companies are looking for big things with Windows Phone this year, despite the success of Android and iOS. Smartphone makers are pushing the limits of what they can do with respect to smartphone design, and wireless network operators are rolling out the fastest mobile broadband networks they can. The mobile industry is on fire, and will continue to burn brightly for years to come.

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