MediaFile

Shadowing a fund manager at CES

More than 140,000 people descended (or will descend) on Las Vegas this week to kick the tires on a new wave of consumer electronics gadgets. Of those, a relatively small contingent (estimared? 3,500) are portfolio managers and other financial professionals earnestly seeking to place informed bets on the Next Big Thing.

We tagged along as Hampton Adams, head of research and a portfolio manager at Pasadena, California-based Gamble Jones Investment Counsel, hiked around a CES showfloor spanning 30 football fields in a pair of comfortable loafers, taking a first-hand peek at the technology industry’s latest offerings.

Inevitably, Apple always features high on Adams’ agenda even though the consumer electronics trendsetter isn’t even officially there. He wants to see what might be gleaned about Apple from its competitors.

Here’s a photo log of some of the highlights of our nine-hour odyssey. We’ll publish more details of his discoveries on Reuters.com.

 

Starting the day with a keynote by Qualcomm Chief Executive Paul Jacobs, who reassured the audience he didn't mind them playing with their phones while he talked but didn't give much news.

Chipmakers most creative, drugmakers least?

Chipmakers including Intel and Qualcomm make up the world’s most innovative industry, according to a new analysis of patents by Thomson Reuters that is equally notable for some of the companies it does not include.

Thomson Reuters has just released its “Top 100 Global Innovators” list, which it compiled by scrutinizing patent data around the world using a peer-review methodology it developed.

“We tried to take an objective look at technology innovation and apply a composite measure not just of volumes, but also of influence in terms of citations of later published patents, in terms of globalization of patenting,” says Bob Stembridge, the lead analyst behind the study.

Tech wrap: Companies continue patent buys

Tech giants continued attempts to shore up their patent portfolios continued on Wednesday, with InterDigital being targeted by Apple, Nokia and Qualcomm.

Bidders have been eager to get their hands on InterDigital”s 8,800 patents — including crucial 3G and 4G/LTE patents to strengthen operating software for smartphones.

Key potential bidder Google, who earlier this week acquired Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion, has not formally withdrawn from the auction but it is unclear whether they will bid for the company.

Tech wrap: Biggest series of cyber attacks exposed

Security company McAfee uncovered the biggest-ever series of attacks on the networks of 72 organizations including the U.N., governments and companies around the world and claimed there was one “state actor” behind them but declined to name it. One security expert who has been briefed on the hacking said the evidence points to China.

Some of the victims in the five-year campaign include the governments of the U.S. and Canada; the International Olympic Committee; the World Anti-Doping Agency; and various companies, from defense contractors to high-tech enterprises.

RIM unveiled two new versions of its touchscreen BlackBerry Torch, including an all-touch model. The three touchscreen phones, running on the new BlackBerry OS 7, boast improved screen displays and pack a 1.2 GHz processor from Qualcomm, the most powerful ever for a BlackBerry phone. They also have a dedicated graphics processor that should make video and gaming sharper and more responsive. The browser is 40 percent faster than the original Torch, RIM’s last major phone launch, which hit shelves almost a year ago. All three devices will be launched by carriers around the world by the end of August, RIM said. The slider Torch will be exclusive to AT&T in the United States, the carrier said.

CES: HP demos Android smartbook

qualcommThe nascent smartbook market got a big nudge forward on Friday, courtesy of Hewlett-Packard, the world’s biggest personal computer maker.

Todd Bradley, executive vice president of HP’s PC division, turned up on stage at the Consumer Electronics Show during a keynote address by Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs to demo a device based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chip and running Google’s mobile Android software.

There was no formal product unveiling, but HP showed off a smartbook with multitouch capability, and Bradley spoke with apparent interest on the  category, which is just beginning to build steam.

Las Vegas telecoms show fizzles out

The CTIA’s annual U.S. wireless technology showcase in Las Vegas was quieter than usual this year as vendors sent fewer employees and rented less floor space for their booths in an effort to crimp spending due to the recession.

Aside from a lot of talk about cellphone applications and a software store launch from BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, the show offered few surprises.

A handful of operators and vendors, however, offered insights into their technology strategies — even if they were less than keen to indicate how their businesses were faring exactly. Some even launched new gadgets.
    
AT&T, the exclusive operator for the iPhone, used the show as an opportunity to talk up application sales for its less fancy phones, which have brought it $1 billion in revenue in the last few years. In comparison, it does not get a revenue share for iPhone apps, which kicked of the craze for application stores when they launched last year.