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CES 2012: It’s Not Just About Consumers

Peter Judge has been involved with tech B2B publishing in the UK for many years, working at Ziff-Davis, ZDNet, IDG and Reed. His main interests are networking security, mobility and cloud

It may be called the Consumer Electronics show but CES is an event the business IT community can’t ignore, says Peter Judge

Once again, the consumer electronics industry is having its annual celebration in Las Vegas. But as at CES 2012 leaps into life, businesses should be aware that this is not just for consumers. Willingly or not, you will have to take account of the news from Vegas.

The “consumerisation of IT” has become a cliche in the last few years, referring to the tidal wave of personal devices that staff want to use on the corporate network, and the fact that a whole generation now uses IT naturally as a consumer service – and expects business IT to work just as well or better.

Tablets, ultrabooks and smartphones

The overlap between business and consumer perhaps comes out most clearly in the fact that “ultrabooks” look like they are dominating over tablets.

Since its launch, the iPad – and the Android tablets that followed – have been widely labelled as consumer devices. RIM’s blackBerry Playbook was clearly a business tablet – and seems to have flopped, perhaps proving the rule.

In the end, by December 2011, the only tablet to have generated anything like the interst accorded to the iPad was Amazon’s Kindle Fire – a device emphatically aimed at consumers, and specifically consumers of Amazon’s digital content.

Despite this, we know that this week, business people will be bringing in Kindle Fire tablets, along with iPads, iPhones and all the rest of it to the office, expecting to use them for business.

Not surprisingly, IT departments will be irked by this.

A survey by service provider Star found that the most likely devices to be brought to work by users were  the iPhone (69 percent), iPad (64 percent), Blackberry (38 percent), and Android phone/tablet (29/21 percent). Meanwhile 17 percent are likely to bring a Microsoft Windows Phone in.

By contrast, IT staff asked which devices they were happiest to hook up preferred BlackBerrys (54 percent) beating the Apple iPhone and iPad on 48 percent and 45 percent respectively. IT stqaff don’t seem to like Andriod, with only 24 percent happy to let them access the corporate net. Meanwhile 22 percent were cool about Windows Phone devices.

So IT people should keep an eye on what happens in Vegas. There’s a thin tablet from Toshiba, and a tablet from Acer  which was upstaged by the Acer Ultrabook. There is also the expected arrival of the Nokia Lumia 900 which might boost the fortunes of Windows Phone.

Whatever happens this week, don’t make the mistake of dismissing CES as a “mere” consumer show.