Some people think that the holidays are what make this such a wonderful time of year, but they are wrong. What makes this time of year so wonderful is the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas!
First off, the obsessive compulsive part of me appreciates the way the show is organized by zones. I find it very easy to get around. I also dig the use of traditional and digital signage to get you around the floor. I will also be taking full advantage of the official CES mobile app, which lets me track exhibitors, see my schedule, find my location and more.
I also really like Las Vegas. I’ve been banned from most casinos (I like to pretend it’s because of my math / card counting skills, but the truth is that I’m banned by my wife), so I spend most of my time looking at technology and art (no, really). I am annoyed at the transportation nightmare that surrounds the convention center, but it is what it is.
But what I really love most about CES is the technology. I know that the highlight of the show is the new consumer technology, but I really get the most benefit by meeting with suppliers and manufacturers. For me, the components (pieces that will become part of consumer technology) are the most exciting. It is usually these booths where I find trends. If a bunch of factories in China are making something, then there is a pretty good chance you’ll see it on the shelves soon.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that it will be successful. The last few shows have been about big misses. A couple of years ago, it seemed like every other booth had something to do with 3D TVs (dead). David Berkowitz wrote a really good article about CES on Ad Age:
Quick, what were the biggest product releases that debuted at CES 2012? Try to name even one. Looking at the 2012 recaps from Huffington Post and CNET, there’s practically no correlation between what journalists loved and what consumers bought. The Nokia Lumia 900 was called the best cell phone, but Apple and Samsung were the ones winning market share. Both outlets named the HP Envy Spectre the best laptop, yet the top selling Spectre on Amazon currently ranks at number 586 in the Computers & Accessories category. CNET was at least prescient enough to include the Makerbot Replicator on its list, as Makerbot’s at the vanguard of the disruptive 3D printing field.
Even though it gets most of the show hype, CES is a lot more than just the technology. It has really become the place to make connections, meet vendors and suppliers and even generate new business. Part of it is because there are so many people from all over the world in the same place at the same time. The other part is because, more or less, people who attend share a common bond about technology.
As much as I love wandering around and looking at things, I really do go to the show with a purpose. This year I am tracking down technology (current or potential) on the following:
Plenty has been written about the rise of ‘second screens’ – people using some device while watching TV. For most of this football season, I had Red Zone Channel on TV and ESPN fantasy football stats tracker on my iPad. I think this trend will continue and I am anxious to see what people may be offering to capitalize on it.
Digital Signage to Mobile Devices
I will be attending the Digital Signage Expo, but am hoping to find some new technology that extends digital signage onto mobile platforms. I’ve seen some excellent examples recently, but I think companies have just scratched the surface on the convergence between these elements.
I’m just using this as a catch-all. Mobile is the new black dress – it’s here, it’s still growing – we (as agencies) aren’t doing all we can to capitalize. I don’t have anything specific in mind, I just want to wander the halls and see what’s new.
I know this isn’t as sexy as 4k television sets, but if you’ve ever tried to install touch screens in a retail environment, then you know the pain caused by power. There is never enough of it and it’s never in the right place to power the devices properly. I have heard rumors of some new technology that may solve all that, which, quite honestly, is like searching for the holy grail. I can’t wait to see if the rumors are true.
Learning is Good
It’s not just about the trade show floor. I have signed up for Last Gadget Standing (a shootout) and Mobile Apps Show, which is also a shootout. I find attending seminars to be educational as well as a great way to connect with people.
I’ll write an article when I get back from the show to let you know what I found.
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