The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) opens in Las Vegas on January 6th,with global electronics manufacturers from Samsung to Sony to LG looking to outdo one another with whispers and snippets of content that will increase our anticipation of the next "must have" device.
CES is typically dominated by TV's and home entertainment systems with the same manufacturers using Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona in early March for smartphones and tablets. But I both hope and expect to see some new things at CES this year. In fact, I even put them on my Christmas list. This year, I expect the new eye-popping devices to:
- Push beyond entertainment. Entertainment has dominated the electronics industry for years. But there are only 24 hours in the day that consumers can engage with entertainment, that is – if they don't sleep. So while technologies like the DVR have made consuming content more efficient so we can squeeze more in, ultimately our ability to consume entertainment is capped. Don't get me wrong – I still expect to see mind-blowing advances in cameras, screen resolution, and audio quality, but growth in electronics will come from expanding their use cases. Translation: expect to see more devices offering utility to consumers – helping us lose weight, eat healthier, cut our energy bills, care for a plant, or let UPS leave a package inside the house.
- Become invisible … or not be devices at all. The expansion of consumer electronics beyond entertainment will mitigate the need for every electronic you own to have a screen. More and more of the products you purchase – from kitchen lights to door locks, basketballs, shoes, and dog collars – will be "connected" products. So while consumers won't be buying electronics per se – more and more everyday items will have the ability to collect our data, and send it to a hub – most likely a smartphone in the near term.
- Lean on smartphone apps. As electronics shift from offering purely entertainment to utility, those brands with the best mobile experience in the moment of need will win. For example, many companies including my smartphone manufacturer can tell me how many steps I took today or how far I went on my last run. Fewer can tell me with accuracy how many calories I burned to help me achieve a specific weight loss goal. The winners in these new electronics categories will be those who take this data, turn it into insight, and then serve it to me on my smartphone exactly when I need it the most.
The reality is, consumers buy electronics based on what meets their specs, is priced right, and excites them – sometimes. With this in mind, I also hope to see devices that will improve multi-tasking efficiency. For example, helping me monitor my sleeping baby while I write blog posts in my office, alerting me if the temperature on my crockpot should be turned down, or adjusting the temperature on my thermostat while I'm driving home from work.
I'll be following the announcements at CES and look forward to watching this race unfold. What else are you anticipating at this year's show?