Perspective on CES 2014
Perspective on CES 2014
CES 2014 was the largest ever in terms of floor space.
The Internet of Things in prior years has become the Internet of Everything, connected devices for a myriad of purposes. Wearable devices were abundant on the show floor, including digital health products for humans and pets, as were connected home applications, for appliances, security, power conservation and other purposes. There was a noticeable increase in the number of remote presence/robotic devices as well as in 3D printing products, a concept that is rapidly approaching its tipping point.
There was also a noticeable upsurge in the ways that technology has been incorporated into automobiles, with the major manufacturers represented. Audi demoed its driverless car, moving in and out of a garage, controlled through the user’s smartphone.
Smartphones, tablets and TVs, especially UHD, were certainly a major feature at the enormous exhibits from the leading industry players from Korea and Japan and as noted last year, the escalation in size and number of products from companies based in China.
But with all of that comes commoditization as the penetration of these products is leveling off and as it becomes more difficult for one company to differentiate its products from others in the competitive global marketplace.
It is not possible to cover in this space on all of what we saw and were intrigued by or perhaps the things that were less than compelling. This overview is but a snapshot of our observations.
Eureka Park – The economy must truly be on the rebound judging from the number of exhibits from start ups and early stage companies. This group, termed Eureka Park, is at the forefront of new ideas and innovation. Which products and companies will be around next year and the year after is still to be determined as it takes more than a good concept for a company and/or its products to gain traction in the global marketplace.
Phonesoap, a product that can sanitize, clean and polish a smartphone or other device in a matter of minutes, Alcohoot, an app that acts as a Breathalyzer, and, Auto I’s, a rear auto license plate attachment that provides 12 feet of additional warning when backing-up, were the three Eureka Park standouts.
Wearable devices – From a wide range of eyewear reminiscent of Google Glass with many capabilities to a contact lens that “enhances the digital experience,” eyewear innovations were well represented at CES. Cameras were incorporated into most, if not all, of these products.
Probably the largest product category of wearable devices was related to health and exercise. These typically connect to the internet directly or through the Bluetooth connection on a smartphone or tablet, monitoring distance, vital signs, and other metrics.
Automotive – This category in particular represents the Internet of Everything as the vast array of sensors built in to current and next generation autos is nothing short of phenomenal, from communications support to monitoring the auto ecosystem and, of course, the sensors that monitor outside the car, including LiDAR.
The driverless car, while once piloted exclusively by the likes of George Jetson, will eventually become the de facto standard. It is no longer an “if,” but a “when,” in our opinion. This is especially true as major research universities collaborate with auto manufacturers.
A Ford SUV prototype with solar panels on the roof to keep its batteries charged was among the most impressive automotive products. The panels change direction to follow the sun in order to maximize power collection. This concept could greatly extend the driving range that currently limits electric vehicles.
Accessories – Accessory manufacturers and distributors, from aftermarket cables to phone and tablet covers, keyboards and related products have always had a major presence at CES.
The stylus as a “must have” accessory is growing in importance and that was reflected on the show floor. Styli ranging from the basic stylus to those with different font size capabilities to one that had a traditional pen on one side and the stylus on the other, were abundant on the show floor. Pre CES, I thought this dual sided instrument was going to be the giveaway at a lot of booths, but such was not the case. Perhaps next year.
The term “power bank” was front and center this year, a term that seemingly did not exist to define the category in years past. This market segment included everything from very thin back up batteries that attach to the device through a cable to others that wrap around a phone by means of a case and on to wireless recharging.
Given our thirst for power, this product line will continue its growth for years to come with shrinking size and increased capacity.
TVs – In looking at the overall array of UHD TVs, we say once again that the home theater, cinematic experience will be rivaling the picture in many movie theaters in due time. This, too, is becoming commoditized.
Other than curved screens and bendable screens, curved screens that can convert to flat screens with the push of a button, there did not seem to be a lot of new concepts presented. Better software tools, and of course, internet connectivity, were shown as a natural evolution of the sets.
For the third year in a row, Sharp had its 8K TV on display. Samsung also displayed its 8K TV.
Phone and tablets – This was another area where commoditization has taken over.
What used to be the domain of the major and long standing companies is now being challenged by the numerous manufacturers who have both their own labels and private label product. One differentiator is not the hardware, as that can be replicated, but the leadership in the supporting software that many vendors have incorporated into their devices, riding on top of the operating system, a trend that is reminiscent of the rise of Windows in particular. Now, that innovation is largely on the Android OS.
Although certainly not new, the continued development of voice and gesture control of devices, including through eye movement in addition to hand gestures was noted at several exhibits.
In the coming years, the use of sensors to develop hardware products, supported by increasingly sophisticated software will push innovative consumer products well beyond what may even have been imaginable not that long ago.
As for The Shindler Perspective
Creativity and technology have been front and center in our 18+ years of independent consulting. Continuing our involvement in a wide range of forward thinking speaking engagements covering a myriad of topics, on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 I will be moderating The Business Of Sports…How Technology Is Changing The Game.
Organized by Amplify Roundtables and hosted by and held at United Talent Agency (UTA), this panel promises to be an informative and engaging discussion.
Panelists in alphabetical order are David M. Carter, Executive Director, USC Marshall Sports Business Institute; Greg Isaacs, Vice President & General Manager, Digital Media, National Football League (NFL); Jerry Steinberg Senior VP, Fox Sports Field Operations, Fox Sports Media Group; and. Jennifer van Dijk, Senior Vice President, Digital, Wasserman Media Group.
We hope to see you there.
The following week, on Tuesday, February 18, 2014, I will be moderating a panel at the inaugural Digital Entertainment Expo (DEW) on the topic of Rethinking Release Windows: Impact Of Digital on Movie Releases.
Currently scheduled panelists are Richard Hare, SVP & CFO, Carmike Cinemas; Mitch Singer, Chief Digital Strategy Officer Sony Pictures and President, Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem; and, Lee Waterworth, CEO & Co-Founder, Yekra. Follow our social media feeds for updates on additional panelists.
I was pleased to be a contributor to Production Pipeline Fundamentals by Renee Dunlop. The book due out shortly, is now avail for pre-order on Amazon.
Trends in the Marketplace and Other
We are constantly keeping our eye on trends in the marketplace that shape all manner of products and services in entertainment and entertainment technology. In between these periodic consulting newsletters, we post comments, links to informative news articles, comics reflect reality and news of events we attend and speaking engagements on LinkedIN, Twitter, Facebook, and Google +
In the coming months, we’ll be watching such diverse topics as consumer electronics, TV and movie content production and distribution, virtual production, box office, incentives and the transition of the Tonight Show to a new host and its impact on a very competitive environment we call late night wars, among others. So, be sure to connect on those social sites if we are not already connected there.
Trends in the marketplace – One item in particular that merits a mention here as well is the recent announcement by Paramount Pictures that it would no longer distribute movies in North America on celluloid. While the movement away from film has been ongoing for a number of years, the formality of the announcement marks a trend and perhaps another of our categories, “never looking back.”
Comics reflect reality throughout the year in many ways, but especially these days during awards season. Seems to me there are times when this Award should be handed out.
Power banks were noted in our commentary on CES, but imagine where we would be without access to the internet and TV as in this Real Life Adventures comic.
Roberta Shindler and I hope that the recent holiday season was joyful for all of our clients and friends and that your 2014 is off to a great start.
Please feel free to send your feedback on what you read here, pro or con or other matters of interest to you.
For The Shindler Perspective, Inc.
Chief Executive Officer