Looking Back at CES Winners and Ahead to 2011

It's been nearly a month since CES has passed. In the wake of the consumer electronic industry's largest trade show, it's common to see lists that rank the winners and losers from the massive presentations and product unveilings at the show.

However after the show, a more sobering reality can set in. For example, while many products might look like blockbusters, sticky issues like their pricing or delayed releases can make them duds in the long run. Now that there has been time to reflect on different announcements and actually gather information, let's look at which companies gained the most.

Close to best in show
After CES, the knee-jerk reaction was to place either NVIDIA (Nasdaq: NVDA  ) or Motorola Mobility (NYSE: MMI  ) at the top of the Consumer Electronics Show podium. However, nagging questions keep both companies from placing at the top of my "best in show" list.

One of the announcements Moto made that got investors' hearts racing was its Xoom tablet. The Xoom appeared to be the strongest competitor yet for the iPad, going toe-to-toe with the iPad on technical features and also promising a future upgrade to Verizon's speedy LTE network. However, in the wake of CES it was reported that the Xoom would be priced at $700.

Fans of Motorola might defend the Xoom's pricing as being in-line with its capabilities. After all, a 32 GB iPad with 3G access costs $729. However, the beauty of Apple's pricing system has always been that it starts at very low entry-level prices. This pricing model anchors consumers to the $499 entry price point for the Wi-Fi-only model and $629 for the entry-level 3G model.

Undercutting the iPad by $29 based on storage specifications isn't enough for Motorola given that consumers still anchor pricing expectations down to Apple models with less storage. The Xoom will still likely sell well, but given its status as the best looking tablet running Google's new Honeycomb operating system at CES, its pricing model deflates the Xoom's potential to be a runaway success.

NVIDIA had a good showing at CES. It was featured in numerous tablet wins. However, despite its Tegra chip's dominance in tablets, the company was still unable to gain significant traction in smartphones. Its notable wins included one LG phone and two phones from Motorola. With Android manufacturers coalescing around Qualcomm's (Nasdaq: QCOM  ) Snapdragon processor, three major wins at CES isn't enough to inspire confidence that NVIDIA will be able to be a force in smartphones as well as tablets.

One stock that fell
One company that was surprisingly quiet at CES was Marvell (Nasdaq: MRVL  ) . Probably the most troubling news for the company was confirmation that Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) would be moving to Texas Instruments (NYSE: TXN  ) to power its upcoming PlayBook tablet.

Marvell has a long-standing relationship with Research In Motion, so if any ill will from Marvell's inability to win the PlayBook filters down to winning BlackBerry processor designs, it'd be a major blow to the company. Other than its loss in the PlayBook, it was a quiet CES for the company. Marvell might be able to get a pass since its new Tri-Core processor design has been sampling to manufacturers for far less time than its competitors from Texas Instruments and NVIDIA; it simply isn't ready for prime time yet. However, if the company doesn't start showing better traction by midyear, it could spell trouble for Marvell's processor ambitions.

Best in show
In the end, the best in show had to be ARM Holdings (Nasdaq: ARMH  ) . At CES, we witnessed the unveiling of a Windows version built specifically for ARM. That enables ARM to gain a foothold in the PC market, where 346 million units were sold last year. More importantly, as ARM processors are used in increasingly complex designs, the amount of money it collects from licensees per unit should increase as well. ARM is not a slam-dunk by any means. It's still a very expensive stock. However, the company's trajectory coming out of CES is unmatched.

What are your thoughts on which companies have the most momentum headed into 2011? Leave a comment in the box below and let us know.

Eric Bleeker owns shares of NVIDIA. NVIDIA is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. The Fool owns shares of Marvell Technology Group, Qualcomm, and Texas Instruments. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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