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What's the Next Big Thing in Consumer Electronics?
CNBC.com | January 09, 2012 | 12:57 PM EST

Some analysts, in fact, question whether there will even be a next big thing — ever. The move to a more multifunctional mobile world is consolidating electronics — and that erects more hurdles for technologies hoping to open up new spaces.

"What I really think is the biggest trend in consumer electronics kind of argues that there won't be a next big thing," says Jordan Selburn, principal analyst for consumer platforms for IHS iSuppli. "What's taking over the consumer market is the end of the single tasker — the end of the device that does just one thing. … We're entering an area where software is the thing. You've got three or four general purpose platforms that can do anything, and they do."

If Selburn and Arnold are right, the evolution of existing electronics will be critical — and will drive replacement cycles forward. The television industry continues to push 3D hard, but until there's a critical mass of programming that can be watched without glasses, there's not likely to be much consumer interest.

While 3D technology is certain to be a feature of most sets, the concept of the Internet-enabled TV actually holds more promise. The "connected home" has been a buzzword for years now — a premise in which appliances talk with each other and homeowners can easily do things like program their thermostat from remote locations.

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