A Higher Than Usual “Innovation to Marketing Noise” Ratio This Year – Over my years of attending CES, It’s become apparent that most of the hype for “innovative” products is really nothing more than marketing noise. Typically, you will see only a handful of products that are truly innovative in a given year. This year was a bit different – with a number exciting new categories emerging (see next bullet) There was simply more stuff to get excited about. This is important for this CE industry, as the main story for the past few years had been the dearth of truly new & innovative products coming to market.
Hot: Wearables, Connected Things, & Drones; Not: Headphones & Phones – The hot new categories are well documented, but it is merited. The new “Tech West” exhibits at the Sands & Venetian - particularly for health & wellness - was a hive of excitement. The “Internet of Things” continued to gain traction, with more creative applications being developed (“smart rain jacket”, anyone?). Drones, always a thrill, are improving their performance at an impressive rate.
Smartphones, however, seemed conspicuously absent from the conversation this year. It seems that most of the iterative improvements (in screen size/quality, cameras, features etc.) have played out for now; phones took a back seat. Conversely, headphones were everywhere – but not really in a good way. Beats’ success has seemingly created an avalanche of me-too players, each trying to play up form factors and bright colors as design innovations. Headphones were in abundance, but just making, well, noise.
CE Is Now Just The Tip of The Iceberg – Not really a new development as much as a maturing trend. Clearly a large percentage of CES attendees aren’t even in the consumer electronics industry, but are members of today’s broadly defined tech-based business community. They include digital media, apps, online platforms, and entertainment. In fact, a large number of so-called attendees never even visit the show floor; their business is conducted in meeting suites, cocktail lounges, and over opulent meals far away from the overbearing din of the show floor.
CES Is Bigger and Better Than Ever – Despite all of the griping about “surviving” CES, the show continues to grow in size, scope and sophistication (170,000 attendees, 3,600 exhibitors, 4 locations). The organizers have done a great job to keep the “machine” running smoothly while keeping the event relevant. The continuing sense in the technology & digital business world is that one can’t afford not to attend CES. The high concentration of smarts, optimism, & opportunity for trajectory-changing business encounters make it one of the must-attend trade events of the year.
One last open comment to CES’ organizers: please find another week in which to schedule this show. Coming straight off the holidays and then the quick transition into CES make it challenging to get prepared for. While I’m sure they have their reasons for the scheduling, I’d like to lobby for perhaps something in late January or early February. Otherwise, next year’s CES will come around before you know it (January 6-9, 2016)!
Amongst the extensive media coverage of CES 2015, CNET has done a nice re-cap of this year’s show – check it out here: http://www.cnet.com/ces/