POV: CES 2013 Summary

MINDSHARE POINT OF VIEW – It’s extraordinarily difficult to capture the madness of the annual Consumer Electronics Show in one page. Imagine the world’s largest Best Buy electronics shop pumped up on steroids and populated by a strange mash-up of intense tech geeks, cutting-edge marketers, and advertising and media honchos….all in Vegas. Here’s a quick take on some of the key talking-points and trends.      

The Internet of Things

More and more things getting connected to the Cloud as objects get chipped, connected, and cognizant. Nearly everything on display from washing machines to toothbrushes to cars had some IP-enabled capability. Connected automobiles in particular seem poised to break through the CES price-prohibitive showroom into an everyday dealership offering. Interestingly both Ford and GM are opening up their dashboards to third-parties so they can create new utilities and applications, either in car or residing on smartphones, which will control your auto remotely.   


It was impossible to avoid the myriad of stunning new TV sets dominating the central hall. Large 4k resolution TV’s were everywhere. These new HD screens are simply stunning in their clarity, often feeling better than real life. I spent a good 30 minutes gawking at LG’s new OELD HD display. All of these sets are of course IP-enabled offering new advertising and marketing opportunities, although the ecosystems are still somewhat closed and fragmented into walled gardens. One major player missing was of course Apple, a company known for scaling closed ecosystems. Will or won’t Apple get into the TV business? The consensus: yes, most likely next year.    


The Hot Fork was the talk of the town (it vibrates when you start eating too fast) and representative of the massive proliferation of health-related innovations (25% more floor space than last year). Devices like Nike FuelBand, Flex, Jawbone, iDraytion, Ubox, and Vue can measure everything from your blood pressure to sleep patterns to your pill schedule to your sugar levels. It’s an exciting space, and one also ripe for consolidation into a single overall health monitoring device.


The merging of the smartphone and the tablet into a new device, sized conveniently in between the current ones. Samsung’s new Galaxy Note has been the leader in the field, but expect fierce competition as everyone tries to capitalize on a growing category set to double from 25 million units sold last year to over 60 million in 2013.  Next up: foldable phablets and screens that can be rolled up into your pocket.

The Elephants in the Room

Largely missing from the main event: Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, and many others. Most were lurking in the shadows hosting big-wig meetings and meals up and down the strip, busily building relevance and experiences on top of all of the gizmos and gadgets in the conference hall.  Apple continues to be the main hardware and software player missing-in-action. Rumors continue to circulate around a forthcoming Apple TV, even a new fitness watch (iWatch). Ironically the one company missing from Vegas may be the biggest game changer of them all.