Apple rules CES 2013 from 529 miles away

CES 2013 was chock-full of Apple product tie-ins, even though Apple isn't giving companies a lot of guidance. That's my takeaway.

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This year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is underway in Las Vegas. More than 33,000 exhibitors are trying to impress and sell more than 150,000 attendees on their real and speculative wares. I spent three days covering CES 2013 for iLounge, and I came away with this conclusion: the biggest story involved inaction by a company that wasn’t there at all.

Apple’s products were everywhere, actually, as nearly every company, whether in a cubicle meeting room or a house-sized booth with laser projections and professional dancers, was eager to show their connectivity with iPhones and iPads. Sure, Android devices were welcome to the smorgasbord, but more in the spirit of universal, non-branded compatibility: Bluetooth, micro USB, NFC, and lots of apps that worked with iOS “and Android.” Apple has the highest nominal market capitalization of any company in the world; ignore the firm at your company’s peril.

But Apple has been slow and quite particular in which companies it allows to create accessories that utilize its Lightning connection standard, which is what powers the iPhone 5, the fifth-generation iPad, the iPad mini, and any Apple device released from here until the next big switch. Apple creates special authentication chips for officially licensed Lightning cables and accessories. There are unofficial knock-offs one can emulate, but expect to hear from Apple’s legal team, especially if you display your wares at something like CES.

In other words, firms with established histories and proven manufacturing prowess—Belkin, Incipio, Tylt, and so forth—have future-proof Lightning ports and chargers, while the smaller firms, the cheap-o substitutes, the airport last-resort cable makers, and the intriguing indie projects do not. In fact, Apple bascially scuttled a fairly popular Kickstarter project by denying the project’s attempt to include both the older 30-pin connector and a Lightning charger, though it later changed its policy.

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