With the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) rapidly fading into the sunset for this year, we wanted to take a look at who the winners and the losers of the show were.  It was definitely a mixed bag this year with no one product just leaping out to grab us by the collar and shake us with excitement.

TheWinnersof CES 2011

Apple – It’s amazing how a company that doesn’t even come to the show could be considered a winner, but they are.  I detailed my thoughts in this post, but lets face it, did any other company receive more coverage out of the show?

Motorola – While it’s hard to say if the excitement over the XOOM tablet is about the device itself, or just being the first device we’ve seen to run Honeycomb, the XOOM was probably the most talked about device at the show hands down.

The company garnered a lot of attention also for its new ATRIX Android phone.  Not just for the handset, but also for the innovative keyboard dock.  While I personally have some mixed feelings about the usefulness of the keyboard (why not just carry a full powered laptop if you’re going to carry the dock around with you?), I applaud them for being one of the few innovative new products that actually made me take pause this year.

Verizon – While their LTE product is enough to keep us excited about the future of mobile broadband, they definitely did a heck of a job making sure they were the most talked about name at the show.  While the majority of people were focused on whether or not they would announce the iPhone (which they didn’t), they grabbed everyone’s attention the first morning with the demonstration of Android Honeycomb, and they simply didn’t let go.  Their logo was everywhere, even sponsoring the blogger’s workroom in the convention center, the company’s signature red “V” was an extremely common sight around the show.

The Losersof CES 2011

Microsoft – From their Wednesday night pre-show keynote you could tell it was just not going to be a good show for the company.  From Steve Ballmer’s way obviously scripted and lacking in enthusiasm portion of the show, to the insanely painful seven minutes of Liz Sloan presenting a walk-thru of Windows Phone 7 features we already knew about.

That isn’t to say that it was all bad.  The new facial features of Avatar Kinct speak to that game controller becoming that much more powerful, and the prospect of Windows 8 being a SoC (Software on a Chip) implementation is exciting.  Also, seeing a much slimmer version of the Surface table was cool, and perhaps we will finally see this technology make it out into the world in a bigger way, but when you’re Microsoft, the audience is expecting more from you, and it just wasn’t there.

Sprint – I went into this in greater detail here, but considering the other three big carriers had such huge showings in Las Vegas, the lack of any real Sprint announcements was highly conspicuous.

Tablets – We’re not sure, but we even think one of our cab drivers mentioned they were releasing a tablet this year.  With the exception of Motorola’s XOOM, no tablet stood out from the pack.  And let us make this clear, the pack was huge.  From Windows 7-based devices running the full OS to more Android choices than we could throw a stick at, the show floor was lousy with them.

While most analysts are predicting this year will be huge for the form factor, there are going to be a lot more losers than winners because the market simply cannot sustain this many choices.  There will be some that succeed, such as the Motorla XOOM appears poised to do, but in general expect to see “fail on launch” as the manufacturers simply can’t find a market for their devices.

What say you?  Who did you think were the winners and losers of CES 2011?

Special note – We would like to give a big shout out to F1rst Food and Bar in Las Vegas for being incredibly helpful during a Wi-Fi emergency at CES.  When we lost connectivity in the press room during the Press Day event, and couldn’t get signal on our hot spots due to being so deep in a hotel, they were extremely generous to allow us to hang out as long as we needed to file some stories from our table, even long after the meal was finished.  They were even kind enough to bring us our own pot of coffee to help us power through.  Nice folks, and we couldn’t have done some of our work without them.