Apple nowhere and everywhere at this week's Consumer Electronics Show

The huge, annual CES (Consumer Electronics Show) tradeshow is under way in Las Vegas this week. And Apple isn't there, as usual. But, as usual, Apple is everywhere. That is, many of the products being introduced are simply ripoffs of Apple products. PCWorld has an interesting article about this "Parade of ripoffs." One of the biggest trends at the show is expected to be the new slew of "ultrabook" computers — all of them looking very much like the MacBook Air. The latter computer is taking so much of the market that other manufacturers are trying to emulate Apple's successful design. As many as 50 ultrabook models are expected to be introduced.

Also, it's expected that Siri will be a hot topic at CES. It's not clear yet that any companies have a Siri-like phone to demo, but it is clear that they're all scrambling to catch up with Apple on natural language understanding and voice control/search. You can read a fascinating article about this on Fox Business.

And given the huge success of the iPad, there are a number of iPad-like tablets on display. Lenovo, for example, is showing the IdeaPad. You can read more on the ComputerWorld website. It weighs 1.1 pounds, is a third of an inch thick, and runs on a quad-core processor. Also on display is the Eee Pad Transformer Prime from Asus. You can read more about it on Engadget. Both of these tablets have an iPad-like 10-inch display. And then there's the Acer Iconia Tab A700 — yet another iPad knockoff. Read more on Engadget. These tablets are a step ahead of Apple with their quad-core processors, but mostly they're playing catchup. And they'll have more catching up to do when the iPad 3 comes out in March or so.

Master your iPhone in one minute a day:

Sign up to iPhone Life's Tip of the Day Newsletter and we'll send you a tip each day to save time and get the most out of your iPhone or iPad.

You have to expect that these companies will copy Apple's hardware, but what surprised me is that they're also copying iCloud. One of the most obvious is AcerCloud from Acer. AppleInsider points out that not only did Acer copy iCloud but they also actually used a graphic almost identical to the one that Steve Jobs used last summer when he introduced iCloud. The similarity is amazing.

The PCWorld article says that also on display are smart TVs that appear to be emulating the TV set that Apple is supposedly working on. This might be a stretch, but still, one has to suspect that part of the impetus for these new models might be all the buzz surrounding Apple's anticipated TV. The Financial Post has a great article about Apple's "mystery TV" and the effect it's having at CES. TVs running the Android software are expected to be introduced by Samsung, LG, Sony, and Vizio. And by the way, hackers have cracked the Apple TV settop device, which runs iOS, and have figured out how to use it to run iPad apps. A widespread assumption is that Apple's next TV effort, whether their settop device or a TV set, will be able to run apps.

Cult of Mac has a great article titled "Why Apple Will Dominate CES." The article claims that half of the initiatives and products announced will be in response to Apple, or in anticipation of what Apple may do in the future. Of course, Apple's influence is also seen in the huge number of third-party products on exhibit.

You have to almost feel sorry for these manufacturers. They work so hard to get their efforts noticed, and Apple controls all of the buzz. Can you imagine introducing a smart TV, only to have it compared to the product that everyone is imaging that Apple will introduce? That's mindshare, and it must be discouraging.

Master your iPhone in one minute a day: Sign up here to get our FREE Tip of the Day delivered right to your inbox.

Jim Karpen holds a Ph.D. in literature and writing, and has a love of gizmos. His doctoral dissertation focused on the revolutionary consequences of digital technologies and anticipated some of the developments taking place in the industry today. Jim has been writing about the Internet and technology since 1994 and has been using Apple's visionary products for decades.