Last week, the 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) wrapped up in Las Vegas. CES is the seminal annual event for highlighting the latest and greatest in terms of what kind of entertainment, media and technology will be making its way into our collective lives.
The event gives us a small peak into where our disposable incomes may be headed, and 2010's CES was no exception. The website/media portal CNET is a great source for aggregating and navigating the miles of convention floor, and also helps those of us who didn't have a chance to venture off to Sin City to better understand what the highlights were. All of this news coverage culminates in their Best of CES 2010 wrap-up along with their awards for best-in-show.
So, what's unique about this year?
It's obvious that the tide has shifted. The products that are getting the most attention - the best-of-the-best - are as applicable and relevant to how we're going to run our businesses as they are to how our TV rooms are going to evolve in the coming years. One of the first subtleties that we should all be aware of is that the concept of a TV room, computer room and a home office is quickly disappearing. Every room is now wired. And because of laptops, wireless routers and smartphones, every room is a computer room. You'll notice this even in the consumer electronics industry jargon, as they now refer to places like your den, living room and basement as the "media room". Suddenly servers and wireless routers are just as cool and newsworthy as whether or not Apple is going to announce a new iPod.
Our homes (like our offices) are fully connected.
In fact, as more and more devices like the iPhone, BlackBerry, laptops and netbooks take hold, all of us are (or can be) connected all of the time (and yes, this includes our cars as well). Think about it: How many people still go to a physical location to sit down and "surf the Web" in their home or office, compared to the number of people that now have laptops with wireless connections who are online wherever they are?
These changes may seem obvious, but they are changing us (and business) faster than we think, and we're beginning to take the adoption and innovation for granted.
The big story at CES this year was 3D TV. Panasonic picked up a bunch of big awards for their Full HD 3D technology, which is said to be shipping to retail this spring. It includes four 3D models in 50-, 54- and 65-inch screen size models. And while it's going to be great for the DVD release of Avatar, it's also going to change business as we know it. Think about the dynamics of a boardroom and client presentations when a 65-inch, full-HD, THX-sound-enabled, 3D screen gets added to mix. What will your product demos and pitches start to look like? It doesn't matter if you sell real estate, Lear jets, accounting software packages, or snow suits, this type of technology changes the game. But - as with all new introductions of technology - we'll have to see how widespread the adoption is. It's one thing to demo a 3D television, it's a whole other world to start getting television production companies to start shooting in 3D, and getting all of the broadcasters on board to start transmitting shows across the cable networks as well (just look at how challenging it still is to get quality HD programming).
Beyond 3D television in the home, there were countless other cool hardware products on display at CES - including SD memory cards that have wi-fi built into them, so you can transmit pictures wirelessly directly from your digital camera to any hard drive or printer. There was also a huge push in e-readers as the major electronics manufacturers try to join the Amazon Kindle and Sony Reader fray.
Beyond that, there was something else - perhaps more subtle, but just as important - boiling up beneath it all: The content.
With all of this new hardware, and all of these choices on all of these new platforms and devices, there is going to be a deep need for really strong and viable content. It is no longer simply about how engaging that content is for consumers. It's also not about how easy it is to get that content, share that content, transfer that content to all of our other devices, or even produce that content for ourselves. It's going to be about producing timely, relevant and captivating content that fits the platform and gets consumers excited to be buying from you and talking about you.
So, there's the case for convincing your boss to let you attend CES next year. It's no longer just about how thin and large our TV screens have become. It's about business as the year 2010 pushes on.
The above posting is my twice-monthly column for the Montreal Gazette and Vancouver Sun newspapers called, New Business - Six Pixels of Separation. I cross-post the article here with all the links and tags for your reading pleasure, but you can check out the original versions online here:
- Montreal Gazette - Las Vegas trade show introduces some game-changers.
- Vancouver Sun - Embracing the new business of being wired everywhere.