CES 2013: Cloud-based services trending in consumer market

While at CES this year, we looked for but didn't find any evidence that tablet computers will replace the laptop anytime soon, but we did observe some progress in the public cloud that will enable the "connected home" and the "connected car."

On the connected home front, announcements from AT&T and IBM were among the highlights. AT&T announced it plans to commercially launch "AT&T Digital Life" in eight markets in March, with 50 markets planned by the end of this year. Delivered as an all-digital, wireless-based home security and automation service, AT&T Digital Life offers control of their homes from a smartphone, tablet or PC -- regardless of wireless carrier or broadband provider.

IN PICTURES: Best of CES 2013

The Digital Life plans will range from a Simple Security package to total home automation with the Smart Security package. Add-on options will include a Video Package (view live video from inside and outside of the home), an Energy Package: (control appliances, lighting and HVAC), a Door Package (remotely controlled automated door locks/status monitors), and Water Packages (detect leaks/shut off water at the main source). [More: "Mobile remote control may be the ticket for home automation"]

IBM, STMicroelectronics and Shaspa announced a collaborative effort to tap cloud and mobile computing that enables consumers to manage and interact with their homes' functions and entertainment systems using multiple user interfaces such as voice recognition and physical gestures for a smarter home. [More: "IBM wants to connect your whole house to its cloud"]

Commenting in a statement, Bruce Anderson, general manager, Global Electronics Industry, IBM, said ,"Thanks to emerging cloud services we are entering a new era in which the role of the personal cloud is expanding into daily life and the smart home to improve energy efficiency, health and wellness and home entertainment. In the future, cloud-enabled electronics will sense what people want, evolving from seeing-to-noticing-to-remembering personal needs and histories."

We saw many variations of the connected car, and an announcement about collaboration between Delphi and Verizon as one of the highlights. Delphi's "Vehicle Diagnostics" use a device offering car-to-cloud/cloud-to-car connectivity service. Drivers can mimic their key fob functions to control their car, track, locate, access, secure and monitor their vehicles anywhere at any time with a smartphone or browser.

Among the product's features, customer can use smartphone, laptop or tablet as a key fob for the car; they can monitor overall vehicle status; and receive alerts for driving and vehicle performance issues. The system operates via a smartphone app and standard Web browser. Data transmitted through the Delphi connectivity system remains secure and encrypted over the Verizon Wireless network. [More: "Apps coming to cars, even without phones"]

Our observations: We've seen an explosion of cloud based services targeting the needs of the enterprise, and this year's CES showed us that a similar trend is underway in the consumer market. However, the number of "business apps" for the smartphone and tablet pales in comparison to the number of apps available for consumers.

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