With Microsoft absent from both the show floor and the keynote podium, CES 2013 will still spout reams of software, although the new offerings will be widely spread out across Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Web, and even TV platforms.
New software programs, apps, and cloud-enabled services will range across categories that include travel, health, business productivity, music, movie entertainment, home energy, corporate device management, and just about any others you can imagine.
Chinese Company Gets Microsoft Booth Space, but Qualcomm Grabs Keynote
Microsoft first announced plans to relinquish its huge booth and coveted pre-show keynote slot for CES 2013 in December of 2011. This year, Microsoft's long-time show floor space will be shared by satellite TV provider DISH and China-based electronics manufacturer Hisense.
Instead of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, this year's kick-off keynoter will be Dr. Paul E. Jacobs, chairman and CEO of San Diego-based mobile device chipmaker Qualcomm. The other main keynoters will include Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and head honchos from hardware makers Samsung and Panasonic and telecom provider Verizon.
As in the past, neither Apple nor Google will be at CES. However, according to the CEA, CES 2013 has set a new record for the total amount of exhibit space sold: 1.87 million net square feet, up just a tad from the 1.862 million net square feet sold for CES 2012.
Windows 8 Apps Will Be Everywhere, Anyhow
While Microsoft won't be around to drum up business for its own new Windows 8 operating system, the list of apps in the Windows Store does keep growing longer. Zinio plans to demo a new Windows 8 app which now joins its family of digital magazine reader software.
Windows 8 apps will also be aboard new convertible ultrabook PCs and RT tablets from Microsoft's hardware partners. Models in the latest round of ultrabooks are outfitted with the beta edition of Dragon Assistant, an emerging voice assistant app from Nuance and Intel touted as bringing Siri-like capabilities to PCs.
Big name application software vendors will still be at CES this year in force. Companies like McAfee and Nuance will show off 2013 software lineups for Windows (8, 7, Vista and XP) PCs and Macs released in the traditional way during the fall 2012 time frame, so as to drive Christmas sales.
Smarphone, Tablet and TV Software Rampant
Meanwhile, though, zillions of Web service providers and smaller app makers will be clamoring for attention at CES with all sorts of new software. Although details are still under wraps, People Power plans to introduce its second consumer-driven "Internet of Things" app. Its first app, which won first prize from AT&T this year as best energy app, is aimed at letting you monitor and control home energy usage from an iPhone or an Android smartphone.
Dakin will debut a new Web-based brain fitness service targeted at baby boomers and seniors.
GLOBO will demo GO! Enterprise, a new security, management, and TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) tool for dealing with BYOD (bring your own device) smartphones and tablets in corporations.
Bippee.com will show bSafe, a free app for iOS and Android mobile devices that lets you send text messages to a list of contacts -- along with your location information -- if you ever find yourself in a hazardous situation.
On the TV side, Flingo is rumored to be set to announce new partnerships for Samba, its face recognition-based software platform for delivering "contextually relevant" content -- such as casting information -- about entertainment fare to the screens of TVs, PCs, and mobile gadgets.
LG Electronics is expected to show a TV that runs a new software interface based on HP's WebOS operating system.
Getting Heard Above the Software Din
To get heard above the din, software makers will be hosting their own press events or taking part in CES activities like keynote panels, the Mobile Apps Showdown, the CEA MoDev Hackathon, and Pepcom and ShowStoppers press events.
Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of Salesforce.com, will be one of the speakers in the Brand Matters keynote.
Speakers in the Next Generation of Innovators keynote panel will include the company chiefs of Rockmelt, producer of a Chromium-based social media Web browser; Web-based medical appointment scheduling service ZocDoc; i.am.plus, an iPhone app developer; and Bump Technologies. creator of a technology aimed at letting mobile devices connect with each other simply by being bumped together.
MPme, one of the Mobile Apps Showdown contestants, is a free music app designed to work as a curator/discovery service centered on your specific tastes, with links to radio stations around the globe.
At the day-long MoDev Hackathon on January 8, developers will compete for cash awards as they create mobile apps on their laptops directly in front of show goers. Since the Hackaton is sponsored by the Travel Channel, the $25,000 grand prize will go to an app with a travel or adventure aspect.
Meanwhile, in a Power Session during CES Press Day on January 7, Pervasive Group will unveil two new family security apps for Android devices: MMGuardian Premium and MMGuardian Tablet Security.