Perspective on CES 2015
Perspective on CES 2015 – Sensor-Y Overload – the Interconnected Ecosystem
It was a great CES again this year, from pre-show conferences such as Storage Visions in which we participated, to several days on the expansive show floor, checking out the latest in hardware, software and devices of all kinds, including the abundance of accessories.
Sensors were prevalent in products on the show floor. The term IoT or Intenet of Things was everywhere, more so than in prior years. As the IoT rolls out and continues to evolve and expand, we will see sensors built into devices that at one time we never thought would be computerized, to use a term from days gone by.
The growth trajectory of sensors is nothing short of extraordinary, if not overload. By one estimate that was published recently, there will be 33 billion devices connected to the internet by the end of the decade. Overload? Maybe, maybe not.
Yet, overload is what drives the marketplace with new products and ideas, some extraordinary and highly sophisticated, which will ultimately be a part of our very existence on a daily basis, and others that are just not going to cut it hobbies that will not become businesses, or uses that are right conceptually, but just ahead of their time, a phenomenon that we have written about many times and have seen frequently in our consulting practice.
Front and center, the major manufacturers dominated the main show floor. It is hard to escape the size of the footprints of companies such as Samsung, LG, Sony, Panasonic, TCL, Intel, Qualcomm and so many others.
There was a time when the US based companies led the way, and indeed, Apple is still the leader in many product categories. Then, in the 80’s, Japanese companies gained significant market share, noting for example, the total disruption that the Sony Walkman caused.
In more recent years, the Korea based companies dominated the market. While that is still the case, companies from China, with Xiomi seemingly coming from nowhere to a leading position, may, in the not too distant future, disrupt the market once again with innovative features and, most likely, pricing.
Nonetheless, each of those companies either relies on sensors extensively for their products or manufactures them, or both. And it is not just TVs, smartphones, and other mobile devices, but the many other consumer products such as refrigerators, washers and dryers, thermostats, home systems and a myriad of others that form the basis for the forthcoming onslaught of smart home products.
In addition to products that are used in the home, the IoT was prevalent in the automotive area. Virtually all of the major manufacturers showcased their high end cars, from current models to prototypes of future models. Of particular interest to us were the many different forms of powering vehicles.
There seemed to be more attention paid than in years past to the numerous forms of alternative energy powered cars. Hybrids will continue to be a viable form of automotive technology, but a good deal of investment seems to be going into plug in electric only and hydrogen fueled autos.
Home sweet hydrogen read one of the signs at the Toyota booth, indicating that future homes will be built on using this element effectively for more than just fueling our autos.
And with the fuel alternatives were an array of smart charging devices, from fast charge to smart charge, all relying on chips and sensors. In time, the proposed giga factory being built in Nevada by Tesla and Panasonic will develop technology that trickles down throughout the ecosystem.
While all that is in development and in thinking about the future, having a series of locations to get charged is vital, so we were pleased that in early February, Pacific Gas & Electric and Volkswagen each announced significant investments in the electric vehicle infrastructure.
PG&E has committed to build 25,000 EV charging stations in its Northern California service area and VW has committed $10 million to the electric infrastructure.
We were disappointed that Ford did not display its SUV with solar panels on the roof this year as it did last year. While we have a southern California perspective on this, its use and inherent value go way beyond So Cal as evidenced by some of the news items, social posts, etc. during the recent major winter storms in the northeast.
CES automotive included smart apps for finding parking places, paying for them, and the many sensors that are utilized for self-driving and for self-parking, both of which are on the near horizon for a roll out.
Our impressions of CES would not be complete without a brief mention of displays, robotics, virtual reality (VR) and drones.
Once again, sophisticated displays, with 4K/UHD along with high dynamic range, high frame rate capabilities were very prevalent and more than a few vendors showcased 8K and glasses less 3D. Increasing display sizes prompts us to reiterate that it is our belief that what is today a 60, 70 or 100+ inch TV will drive a 50, 60 or 70 foot (or more) theatrical display using similar technology. The technological capabilities coupled with the dominance of the millennial and younger generation that only knows sophisticated flat panels at home will drive this phenomenon.
Robotic devices were almost everywhere. From telepresence products such as the Beam from Suitable Technologies that we labeled the most unique at CES in 2013, robotic window washers, vacuum cleaners and one product that will clean your outdoor grill once you have finished preparing dinner.
With head mounted devices and/or specialty content from Oculus which is reportedly releasing the Rift this spring to those from Samsung, Sony, Toshiba, AltspaceVR and others, it is clear that VR has come a long way since CES 2014. LG recently announced its VR device designed around its G3 smartphone. The types of content that will be most widely accepted for VR and the specific devices on which it will be played is still anyones guess, companies continue to enter the space, attempting to capture a share of their market segment.
Lots of drones and related products were also highly visible on the show floor. Commercial use, whether for movie, TV and commercial production is going to be big. Now that the FAA has set some basic standards, we expect to hear more about what their actual role will be. Will Amazon deliver products to your door via drone? Who would bet against that? It will be a few years, though given the current FAA safety thought process.
CES is expansive and any one area could generate pages upon pages of analysis, but the foregoing represents our takeaway from CES.
As for The Shindler Perspective
Storage Visions Conference – CES was preceded by Storage Visions an official conference partner of CES. Storage is an integral part of all of our lives, from our use of cloud technology tools to the storage resident on our laptops and mobile devices. It was particularly relevant with what is occurring with increasingly large files, billions of mobile devices, net neutrality and the FCC, spectrum auctions, and the dramatic traction of streaming in the marketplace, etc. Our topic Piping up wires and spectrum transporting big data into the future is what enables content of all kinds to get to/from the cloud.
Panelists covered the gamut of the topic and included:
- Ben Bloom, Service Line Manager Akamai Technologies Media + Gaming
- Don Gabriel, General Manager, Sales, EchoStar Satellite Services L.L.C.
- Ian Hamilton, CTO, Signiant
- Eric Markow, Fiber Communications Specialist, Bel Air Internet
- Michelle Munson, CEO and Co-founder, Aspera, Inc. an IBM Company.
It was a robust discussion and resulted in numerous questions from the audience, always a good sign.
UCLA – On April 4, 2015, I will be a panelist at a UCLA conference entitled Adapting to Massive Media Change: Technology Fundamentals and Industry Trends. Specific information will be forthcoming via social media in the coming weeks.
Digital Hollywood This conference continues to be a trend setting conference and is a must attend for those involved in all aspects of entertainment and entertainment technology. Once again, I will moderate two panels on April 28, 2015 at the Ritz Carlton, Marina del Rey, California. Details will be forthcoming the next few weeks. Stay tuned to my various social sites for announcements.
NAB The National Association of Broadcasters annual conference will be in Las Vegas from April 13 16, 2015. The theme, where content comes to life, impacts all of us at all points, horizontal and vertical, on the production and distribution value chain. If you are involved in any of those business, it is incumbent upon you to attend. Well be there.
Trends in the Marketplace and Other
Larger displays – Larger smartphones continue to sell quickly, replacing smaller screens. The same appears to hold true for sales of larger TV screens, and as already noted, we envision a very large screen in the future the future.
Recent data, including the results of Apple’s most recent quarter showing robust sales of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are indicative of the trend, supporting what Samsung, LG and others have been doing for several years. It continues to be the basis for the significant increase in the percentage of business coming from the mobile platforms.
Tap and pay We have been fans of tap and pay, using NFC technology on our smartphones at smart terminals to pay without the need to swipe a credit card. As NFC is incorporated into a larger number of phones and other devices, the system, spurred in part by both Apple Pay and Google Wallet, will gain more traction. As that occurs, we will see more pairing of devices using NFC instead of blue tooth, making the pairing function easier.
Comics reflect reality Frequently, in many businesses and industries, there is a delicate balance between suppliers and customers as both need each other to succeed. Not surprisingly, Dilbert and Scott Adams have a take on negotiations between the two.
Competency, lack of competency and mediocrity are topics that we see regularly in our work. One expression frequently heard is people who fail upwards. Dilbert attacks competency in this recent strip.
As always, we welcome your feedback on our newsletters and posts on social sites on topics of relevance to our clients, past clients and prospective clients.
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