Electronics Industry Hopes for a Reset in 2010


    This is the VOA Special English Economics Report.

    This year's Consumer Electronics Show opened Thursday in Las Vegas. The event is the world's biggest technology trade show.

    More than three hundred companies are presenting more than twenty thousand new products. The goal is to build excitement, make deals -- and hopefully get good reviews in the media. Industry sales dropped eight percent last year during the recession.

    Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Electronics Association, predicted that one area of strong sales this year will be mobile phones. That includes fifty-two million smartphones expected to be sold in the United States. Smartphones run applications and access the Internet.

    Google is launching the Nexus One -- which it calls a "superphone." This is its first attempt to sell its own device. The Nexus One will compete with Apple's popular iPhone.

    Apple is reportedly about to introduce a new digital tablet. Tablets are easy-to-hold screens that let you read and watch media or search the Web. An example is the Amazon Kindle. Like netbooks, tablets cost less than traditional laptop computers. But that can also mean smaller profits for manufacturers and sellers.

    An attendee looks at a 3D movie at CES in Las Vegas, Nevada
    An attendee looks at a 3D movie at CES in Las Vegas, Nevada
    Companies like Sony and Panasonic are introducing new television sets for watching three-dimensional TV. A three-D TV costs more than three thousand dollars. Americans are expected to buy four million of them this year. Sports broadcaster ESPN and the Discovery Channel plan to start their own three-D channels.

    The Consumer Electronics Show has an area for companies to demonstrate products that save energy, reduce waste and use recycled materials. Show spokeswoman Jennifer Bemisderfer says the Sustainable Planet Tech Zone is four times bigger than last year.

    She says manufacturers are increasingly interested in the idea of "cradle-to-cradle" technology. That involves thinking about a product's whole lifetime.

    JENNIFER BEMISDERFER: "When those products are at the end of their useful life, how are they going to be broken down? How are we going to get some of the essential elements out of those products and have them reused in the manufacturing process?"

    Interest is also growing in energy management systems for the home -- and safe driving technologies for the car. These include voice-activated systems that let drivers make calls and send text messages without using their hands. Other products warn drivers if they are falling asleep or in danger of an accident.

    And that's the VOA Special English Economics Report, written by Mario Ritter. To post comments or to send us questions, go to 51voa.com. I'm Steve Ember.