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A few observations from our quick spin around the Las Vegas Convention Center over the weekend:

3-D was without a doubt, the topic du jour at CES, as Avatar topped the US box office for a fourth consecutive week, and studios released new statistics on the 3-D box office effect. On the floor in Vegas, the focus was squarely on 3-D in the home.

We donned wraparound headgear at the Sony and Samsung stands to check out the action, which was without a doubt, eye-popping. More interesting, from our perspective, though was the flurry of content alliances and announcements in this area, proving once again that driving awareness and penetration of the latest whizz-bang gadgetry is all about sparking the consumers’ demand for things they’re passionate about: movies, sports, and games.

Display manufacturers with key sports and entertainment sponsorships to leverage are clearly poised to drive massive awareness of their next generation devices:

* Sony’s alignment with ESPN as the launch sponsor of ESPN 3D is key on a couple of fronts. ESPN 3D will provide the US broadcast platform for the World Cup matches that Sony has committed to produce. ESPN gets to leverage the marketing juggernaut of the World Cup to drive a high-visibility launch of their new network.
* Samsung and Dreamworks announced a partnership giving Samsung an exclusive marketing window on Dreamworks’ 3D tentpole releases for the coming year.
* Panasonic continued to milk their Avatar sponsorship in addition to announcing the launch of a dedicated 3D channel in partnership with DirecTV. Look for exclusive sports content (Olympics, and motorsports featured prominently in Panasonic’s on-stand marketing) and an array of new services and packages from the one player with the strongest potential to directly target and market a 3D channel to viewers.

Sprint’s marketing campaign for their 4G service – the Now Network- was ubiquitous underscoring the theme that ran through every facet of the show including lifestyle-themed tech zones such as: MommyTech, Kids’ Zone, Automotive, and Smart Homes.

The integration of connectivity into all of our devices and every facet of our daily lives is rapidly underway. It is not without a number of hurdles – as evidenced by the number of discussions and emerging working groups and task forces on standards and interoperability – however, it is without a doubt spawning an explosion of new products, services, partnerships and business models. 110,000 attendees at this year’s International CES were there to bear witness. We look forward to the year to come.

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