Connectivity is King: A Recap of CES 2013

“SXSW may be becoming more corporate, but CES is becoming more social” – WCG’s Aaron Strout summing up CES 2013

The first Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was held in 1967.  Back then, only big businesses had the need, and the budget, for computers.  Even in 1984, when my cousin Jenny got her first computer, no one in her family knew how to use it and did not come with a monitor.  Much has changed since then, obviously, and not just in terms of the hardware.

As social has taken over the marketplace in the last five-to-seven years, the exhibitors at CES have been able to gain valuable insights into the wants and needs of consumers and businesses.  Fluid communication in a “digitally-connected world” through social media, mobile connectivity, and cloud computing is paramount. Yes, it is true; CES has always been focused on “a digitally-connected world” and they have probably been using that term since 1967, as well.  What has changed is how these companies go about bringing their products to market. The status quo used to be set by the large OEMs: “Here…we’ve created a piece of hardware and the software to run it. Have at it.” Now, thanks to this socially, digitally, connected world, the voice of the people – do you hear the people sing?—and the tools to listen (that’s where we come in), are influencing the marketplace in a way that demands action. Big brands glean inspiration from the social world, and, at the same time, take responsibility for leading the movement.

The most newsworthy products at CES 2013 varied across the board from small start-ups to big businesses. For those of you who were not able to make it to Las Vegas for 2013’s edition of CES, please find below highlights of product launches and announcements:

CES 2013 – Themes and Trends

Next Generation Tablets
Panasonic’s 20-inch tablet turned heads, while the Razer Edge, a new PC gaming-oriented Windows 8 tablet, won accolades for Best in Show from CNET.

Eye-Popping TVs
Samsung unveiled their $20,000 UN85S9 85 inch Ultra HD Quad Core TV, featuring a new upright easel design, while the world’s largest UHD TV, the Westinghouse 110 UHD, was also on display.
Flexible Displays
Samsung’s Youm Flexible Screen for smartphones and tablets was a part of Samsung’s keynote. Corning debuted their Willow Glass, a flexible display soon to be in tablets, smartphones, TVs.
Both Samsung and LG showcased curved OLED TVs. The semi-circular shape is designed to provide a more immersive, panoramic experience than a traditional flat panel set, and also provide a wider viewing angle.
Fitness/Lifestyle Tech
Withings’ Bluetooth-enabled Smart Activity Tracker is the first to track heart rate.   Additionally, there is now a robot for cleaning pools, iRobot’s Mirra530 and one for cleaning windows, the Winbot.  Swimmers can finally listen to music underwater with the Sony Waterproof Walkman, available in stores for only $99.

Kickstarter’s most successfully-funded product, the Pebble Smartwatch, gained attention as the new product debuted at CES. The smartwatch syncs directly with Android or iOS smartphones providing information like Facebook updates, text messages, music controls, and of course the time.  Another watch on display was the I’m Watch, an Italian Android-based smartwatch with similar features as the Pebble, touting “The World’s 1st Smartwatch” title.  There is an imminent cross-over with the functionality of the smartwatches and the activity trackers like the Nike Fuel Band and the Fitbit Flex. The trend seems to be going towards the merging these two products into the same category in the coming years.
Weird & Wonderful
HAPIfork is a smartfork that syncs with a smartphone app to monitor a person’s eating habits, while The Node, from Variable Techonologies can take body temperature and even scan for home improvements.  The Node works using a Bluetooth-enabled sensor that looks like a mini-flashlight.

News & Announcements:
Qualcomm’s Paul Jacobs was the first non-Microsoft opening keynote ever at CES (Microsoft pulled out as the lead sponsor); which speaks volumes about Qualcomm’s desire to get on the radar of consumers for the first time. They launched a marketing campaign, “Born Mobile” to capture the hearts and minds of attendees. The biggest announcement Qualcomm made at the show was the next generation Snapdragon Premium Mobile Processors for high-end mobile computing.  Paul Jacobs’ keynote highlighted several partners using the new technology.  He also shared the stage with a tricked out, custom-modified electric Rolls Royce to preview Qualcomm’s Halo wireless charging technology, which will debut later in the year.

Even though Microsoft did not attend in an official way, they did participate with sponsors. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer joined Qualcomm’s Paul Jacobs for its opening keynote, and Microsoft’s Chief Technology Strategy Officer, Eric Rudder, joined the Samsung keynote to showcase the IllumiRoom technology.  Microsoft gave select journalists a preview of its upcoming Surface Pro tablet with Windows 8, receiving positive reviews.

Intel, the world’s biggest chipmaker moves beyond its comfort zone with new mobile chips, TV streaming, and unconventional interfaces.  To highlight its Fourth Generation of Core processors, Intel revealed a convertible computer/tablet, the North Cape.

Two laptops from HP debuted to positive reviews: The Elitebook Revolve, a laptop with a revolving screen won Best Notebook at CES and the Spectre XT Touchsmart showcased the best of Windows 8.  Also, HP’s Pocket Playlist lets the user take streamed shows on the go.

What else were people talking about during #CES2013? Salesforce Marketing Cloud gave an insightful breakdown of the conversation: Social Media Trends From 2013 International CES

Kelsey Carroll
Kelsey Carroll

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