What innovations will debut this week at Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas? Which moves by leading brands will matter most to their industries and to marketers? To get a forecast of what will be important this year, I asked two industry experts for their top five brands or trends to watch at 2014 CES.
Tim Bajarin is an industry analyst and president of Creative Strategies and an expert on consumer technology adoption cycles and usage models. Here’s what he’ll be keeping an eye on.
1. Intel, AMD, nVidia, Qualcomm, ARM
The PC era is on the decline. The post-PC era is in full swing and mobile is at the heart of this new computing age. All of the processor vendors have key products for mobile and 2014 is a pivotal year for all of them. Intel has been moving fast to try to catch up with ARM, whose claim to fame has been low-power processors for mobile. Intel will have a lot of news at CES about its progress and design wins and how it plans to become a premier mobile CPU company. AMD will also be showing off new mobile chips for tablets, and nVidia will announce new versions of its top-notch Tegra Processor for tablets and other mobile devices. Qualcomm has been critical to advancements in mobile communications and its next-generation modems and SnapDragon mobile processors will help extend the company’s leadership role in mobile devices. ARM will be showing new versions of its 64-bit mobile processors, an important development since all but Intel rely on ARM’s advancements to power many of their new processors.
Although Apple is not at CES, its presence will be felt throughout the show. All smartphone vendors know Apple has other shoes to drop when it comes to smartphones and tablets, and everyone understands that whatever Apple brings to market will have a dramatic impact on their own future strategies. So while Apple is not at CES, many companies will be looking over their shoulders trying to guess what’s next from Apple. Also, there will be well over 400 vendors at the show that have cases and other accessories for iPhones and iPads, part of a large CE ecosystem of companies that support Apple’s products, which, for many, provide a very profitable business.
3. Silicon Image
This is a company that many have not heard of but is extremely important to the CE market. The company’s HDMI technology and work in MHL and 60-gig wireless are fueling innovation in the PC and CE markets. Silicon Image will be demoing new advancements in these areas, since most of the major PC and CE companies rely on the company to deliver innovative products that impact the future of CE devices worldwide.
4. Samsung and LG’s Curved TVs and 4K (SuperHD) Televisions
The next big thing in TV is 4K or what is known as Super HD. There will be dozens of new TVs sporting 4K displays, and while 4K content is slow to become available, all of the major studios are ramping up to deliver 4K content in future movies. Also we will see 4K video cameras under $2,000 at the show, which makes it feasible for some prosumers to create their own 4K content for use on their SuperHD TVs. But an interesting twist on the future of TV design will come in the form of curved TVs, and LG and Samsung will be showing off these new products at CES.
5. Synaptics, Immersion, Leap Motion
While there are about one-billion people digitally connected today, the next billion will not be using traditional computing form factors such as PCs and laptops. Most will enter the Internet age via smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices, and their input will not be from keyboards and mice but rather via gestures, touch and voice.
Synaptics is transitioning from being a major trackpad vendor to one that provides other key inputs for the mobile age and will be showcasing new products for the post-PC era. Leap Motion has been a leader in gestures and its products are being integrated into both PCs and mobile devices. Immersion has pioneered the area of haptics — physical response via touch — and has been working on enhancing the touch experience in haptics for autos, phones, tablets and next-gen mobile devices, including wearables.
Tom Martin is CEO of NextScreen, which publishes AVGuide.com, Absolute Sound and HiFi+, and is a long-time computer industry veteran. He’ll be watching for innovations around five key themes.
1. The driverless car. The consumer electronics trend most likely to impact multiple industries in a significant way over the next 5 – 10 years is the driverless car. Urban planning, media, air/rail/truck transport, construction, schools, restaurant chains, Internet retail, telecomm and more will be impacted. Watch what the automakers show and then follow the announcements at NAIAS, the week after CES. Even more, watch for companies starting to position themselves for a time when people gain one to two hours per day.
2. Healthcare. At 18% of GDP, with an aging population, there has to be an electronic pony in there somewhere.
3. The Microsoft question(s). Will Microsoft take steps to make Xbox One a dominant platform? These are early days, but Microsoft’s old pattern of waiting until someone forced its hand or showed the way are long over. Will Nokia demonstrate the will to live as a viable third player in the mobile space? The share gains needed are mathematically daunting, so Nokia/Microsoft must do something impressive about once a quarter.
4. Assisted intelligence. Some commentators call this wearable computing, but that’s a misnomer because it implies that consumers just want today’s computer functionality in a different physical form. The trend to watch for is the breakout of applications, with associated hardware, that change how people interact, work and learn.
5. The next industry that Amazon or Google attack. With financial leverage from their core businesses, Google and Amazon can upset entire industries. Will they preview their next victims?
What breakthrough brands will you be looking for at CES?