CES 2010 is over and despite the fact that the global economy still isn't completely out of the woods, there was lots of innovation on display this year.

Here are three of the products that caught my eye that have the potential to be quite disruptive...

Your own cell phone tower

Well-recognized in the United States for its infomercials, the magicJack is a VoIP device that plugs into a computer USB port and enables free local and long distance calling in the United States and Canada using a traditional household phone. The company behind it, YMax Communications, has cashed in as the magicJack was reportedly set to top $100m in sales last year.

At CES, YMax announced that it's bringing the magicJack to the mobile market with a new mobile magicJack that serves as a femtocell. In non-geek language, that's basically a mini mobile phone tower. The new magicJack, which is being dubbed the Femtojack, will essentially allow anyone in the United States with a GSM-based mobile phone to make free VoIP calls while in their home. Just plug Femtojack into your PC, 'link' it with your cell phone and that's it. Any calls you make when within the range of the Femtojack will be routed through your internet connection instead of through your mobile carrier.

Why it's potentially disruptive

Mobile carriers have invested billions in buying spectrum and building out their wireless networks. A $40 femtocell that allows mobile customers to make free calls using their broadband internet connections without using up minutes certainly isn't a product they're going to be happy about. And YMax's marketing prowess, as proven by its success with the original magicJack, certainly isn't going to make them any happier

A printer with cheap ink

Lexmark's Platinum Pro905 all-in-one inkjet printer made its debut at CES 2010 and won a CES Innovations award. The reason? A black ink cartridge for the Platinum Pro905 costs $4.99 and the three color cartridges cost $9.99 each. In other words, for less than what a blank ink cartridge costs for some HP inkjets, you can replace all of the ink cartridges on a Platinum Pro905. Lexmark boasts that the $4.99 black ink cartridge can print about 500 pages, delivering 1 cent per page performance.

Why it's potentially disruptive

Printer ink is a $45bn per year business and with margins as high as 60%, it's no surprise that companies manufacturing printers and ink have tried so hard to maintain prices, much to the chagrin of consumers. With the Platinum Pro905, Lexmark is responding to consumer cries for a more equitable arrangement. At $399, the Platinum Pro905 may be more expensive than what some consumers are used to paying for a printer, but it does show that a full-featured inkjet printer with cheap ink cartridges is not a dream. That could have significant implications for the printer market going forward.

A pico projector for consumers

A company called Microvision showed off a new pico projector at CES 2010. The ShowWX is apparently the first pico projector that uses lasers. Plug it into a laptop, iPod, iPhone or other device with a TV-Out or VGA port and you can project a high-quality image up to 200 inches across onto any surface. The ShowMX is being marketed directly to consumers and will go on sale in the US this year with an anticipated retail price in the $500 range.

Why it's potentially disruptive

Pico projectors aren't new but Microvision appears to be the first company targeting consumers and there are significant implications for mobile entertainment if the technology takes off. While the ShowWX is a portable device that fits in your pocket, the big potential for disruption will come when these projectors are integrated into mobile phones and devices themselves. This video gives a great preview of how this technology can be applied and what will be possible.

Photo credit: LGEPR via Flickr.

Patricio Robles

Published 11 January, 2010 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (1)



The printer ink joke.

Remember the Midas ad (if I remember well) which was going like this; :"you can pay a little now or a lot later"?

The life cost of the printer (purchase plus usage) will remain the same. The manufacturer are transferring the revenues and profits from future to present. In a market saturated with alternate and fake ink cartridge offerings, it is the only way to maintain profitability.

Disruptive? If your a manufacturer. For the consumer? Probably not! The question is "Does anyboby prints anymore?" 

over 8 years ago

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