Tuesday, January 12, 2010

CES 2010 - Whats hot and whats not!

Every year, a couple of major themes prevail at CES. Usually its the CE industry's attempt to gather mind share and trigger an upgrade cycle or kick start sales for a new device category. This year was not too far.. Three themes that I gathered from my visit to CES 2010:
  • 3D (TVs and content)
  • Connected devices (touch screen devices and apps)
  • Green
Detailed notes and my own takeaways:
  • 3D
    • TVs:
      • The showfloor was abuzz with large 3D TV screens and content played in 3D - If I see one more trailer of Avatar in 3D I think I will puke ;).
      • All major vendors (Sony, Panasonic, Mitsubishi etc.) announced support for HD 3DTVs (buzzword alert!). Sony will be providing a firmware upgrade to their PS3 units to display video games in 3D on supported TVs, and will also upgrade the Blu-ray player to support 3D content. The Sony booth did have some light weight demos of 3D games that looked cool, but did not look production ready as yet. See here for some cool videos.
      • Panasonic announced a twin lens, full HD 3D camcorder (still pricey, but could be the content that we see on YouTube in the next few years)
      • Even Intel jumped on the bandwagon, claiming and demoing at their keynote, how their processors could handle editing of 3D content in real time.
    • Content:
      • Movie content is already on the 3D bandwagon - now comes time for TV content. ESPN announced it will launch a 3D TV sports channel, starting with the world cup. Sony, Imax and Discovery Communications unveiled plans for a 3D channel broadcasting films and children's shows.
  • Shalini's takeway: All 3D TV technology still require glasses - major bottleneck for consumer adoption. Note that sports content in 3D looked pretty realistic. Bringing this content to the living room may prove to get some mindshare from sports enthusiasts.

  • Connected Devices
    • Touch Screen Devices
      • Touch screen was the mantra of the day. Starting with mobile phones (The NexxusOne was well received) to tablets (posing as ebook readers or home collaboration devices) to video conferencing solutions, display solutions for retail all the way down to remote controls.
      • Tablets: Microsoft CEO showcased a tablet coming up by HP that can surf the Web, and display e-books and multimedia content. Many other vendors such as Lenevo and Fujitsu also demonstrated how their notebooks could be transformed into a tablet by detaching the screen. Intel's CEO demoed a tablet device posing as a home device for collaborative calendaring, controlling the lights/temperature and monitoring power around the home. He also demoed a touch screen display device for retail use - all based on Atom of course.
      • Remote Controls: Samsung talked up a touch screen remote control which demoed well, but I could not get my hands on. More here: http://ces.cnet.com/8301-31045_1-10427283-269.html. I met with a company called AmTran that also showed me a wifi based touch screen remote control.
      • Video conferencing: Asus launched a touch screen video conference phone using skype. The reps could not get it to work at the booth, so I could not judge the interactive experience of it. He did say they would try to get gmail chat onto it as well.
  • Shalinis takeway: A generic tablet which can handle ebooks well, esp via wifi; as well as serve as a in-home device is a good market - the touch screen demos I saw were very easy to use and navigate. Touch screen remotes worked well, but i think cost will be a major aspect to consider (no one commented on costs).
    • Apps
      • Every single device was connected, and every single device talked up the apps available on their device..
      • Samsung announced their own apps marketplace for their TVs which would work across mobile, BluRay players and TVs. They also announced iPlayer being available on their UK TVs. Samsung currently does have apps via Yahoo widgets, it was unclear to me whether they were laucnhing their own marketplace, or this was something in conjunction with Yahoo.
      • Intel also announced their apps marketplace - via the beta launch of AppUp Center, the app store for Atom devices running Windows and Linux. Paul O. mentioned how this would be extended to cover mobile and TV devices.
      • Yahoo TV widgets was showcasing Netflix, VUDU, Amazon VOD, CinemaNow/Blockbuster, Showtime and CBS. Im impressed they are still around. Definitely having Amazon VOD and Netflix could prove to show some usage of their platform. I tested out my current Yahoo widgtes framework on my Samsung TV last night - still dont have Netflix or Amazon on it, but I could see myself using it when it arrives - more than my Roku box.
  • Shalini's takeaway: Big Hype around apps right now - I do see the argument for having apps work across devices.. In the end, there will only be a few players who survive through this- My bet would be on Apple, Android and just simply webapps. Yahoo Widgets seems to be getting mindshare, but the company fate is unclear.

  • Green
    • Well - not much to talk about here. All exhibitors were trumpeting their green credentials – from hydrogen fuel cells to laptops made from recycled CDs - and even the expo itself had signs all around about its recycling programme and "sustainable planet" exhibition. Something we should all be aware of as we think of our own products and launch plans around it..

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