CES Overview – A Lot of Nervous Laughter

strata-GEE's Show Report LogoToday is DAY ONE of the 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) taking place in Las Vegas, NV and running through Friday. While many attendees arrived today, most of the press has already been here – lost in the desert – for the last two days…desperately searching for even just a drip…of innovation…

See what we know so far…

Press Day, the day before CES opens, is a daunting dash between a seemingly endless string of usually huge press conferences by industry leading companies. And since we live in a video-dominated society, that means the large television manufacturers usually set the tone for the show.

TV makers have had a tough year with significant and continuing declines in both sales – and perhaps more importantly for Japanese TV makers who once dominated the segment – continued losses from their TV divisions. It may be my imagination, but I think you could see the strain – tight smiles, pursed lips, nervous laughter, and slightly less boastfulness (only slightly less though).

Well from everything we’ve seen and heard over the last couple of days – there has really been no major surprise. The major themes so far have been:

  • TV: No surprise here, it’s all about 4K TV, or Ultra HDTV. What about 3D, the major theme of the last few years? What’s 3D? Or as we like to say in Jersey: 3D?…Fuggedaboutit! Despite rampant skepticism from a large swath of the industry, TV makers try to crank up their enthusiasm and plunge forward into the now “hot” 4K ultra high-resolution TV category. Manufacturers are hoping that consumers will seek out the high-resolution format…even if there’s no software to take advantage of it. (Don’t worry, they say  we’ll upscale the signal until the broadcasters catch up to us!) BUT ALSO, TV makers are pushing “Smart TV” and on-screen apps to add a layer of customization in an apparent attempt to head off the looming Apple iTV introduction that some say will happen this year. BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE, TV makers are pushing new forms of control and interactivity with gesture-based remotes, mobile phone control of TV, second-screen interactivity, and more. AND FINALLY a plethora of new Apps and content partnerships. I sense all eyes turning to Cupertino!
  • Go Big or Go Home: Once the last haven for profits in the TV business, TV makers are hoping reignite the American consumers’ appetite for even bigger screen sizes. Forget 40-inch screens! How about 85-inches? Won’t the Super Bowl look great on that?? Yeah, it costs around $20k…but isn’t it swell? (By the way, is it a coincidence that Samsung introduces an 85-inch UHDTV after Sony’s 84-inch set intro’d late last year?)
  • Headphones, headphones, and then more…headphones: As one of the few categories that continues to show growth – although that growth appears to be slowing – headphones were introduced by a slew of new players including one we’ve already written about – Onkyo.
  • Wireless: Mostly in the form of wireless speakers, there continues to be a veritable plethora of new wireless products, systems and accessories. Wireless is popular with consumers, but remains under-supported in the custom integration segment.
  • Mobile: Although Apple is not here, the impact of Apple and its mobile leadership is undeniable. Also very visible, is the success of Android…and the growing success of Samsung in the category. Still, overall, with tens of thousands of mobile products and accessories, mobile is clearly a driving factor in our industry. Even Shapiro in his keynote, talked about CES as the world’s largest App show.
  • Tablets: Still exhibiting a growing demand curve, more companies are jumping on the tablet computer bandwagon. Not to mention a huge assortment of iPad- and tablet- dock-centric systems and accessories.

There are many, many more products and mini-trends, but those above were extremely prominent. Did we miss one you found significant? Let us know in the comment section below!

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