Association Report: Business is Picking Up
Every January thousands upon thousands come to Las Vegas for the annual International CES. Often, the question is what is the device this year? International CES, which launched in New York City in 1967 with 200 exhibitors and 17,500 attendees, has seen some marvelous products introduced at the show, from the VCR to the camcorder, from the CD player to the HDTV, from the Xbox to the tablet.
This year’s show, however, centered on the evolution of devices we know and love, such as TVs and smartphones, along with compelling advances in how those devices interact.
By all accounts this was our most popular and exciting show ever. More than 3,100 exhibitors unveiled more than 20,000 new products on the largest show floor in CES history – 1.861 million net square feet of exhibit space. In excess of 153,000 attendees walked the show floor, discovered innovation in all shape and sizes, and attended keynotes and sessions featuring executives from companies such as Qualcomm, Mercedes, Wal-Mart, Intel, Ford, Verizon, Ford and eBay.
While there were countless innovative products at the show, I’d like to expand on the evolution of familiar electronics products, as we saw lots of exciting developments this year. Here are some of the most important trends I noticed at the 2012 International CES.
TVs are better than ever. “It’s the best time in the history of man to buy a TV,” Brian Dunn, CEO of Best Buy, told me during a session. Why? New HDTVs, both plasma and liquid crystal display (LCD), now boast Internet connectivity, 3D capabilities, sharper and crisper HD displays and advances in energy efficiency, all in a thinner form factor. These thin, light powerhouses hardly resemble the HDTV you bought just a few years ago.
All of these compelling features have been added as overall price points have come down, creating an incredible value proposition. The average unit price is projected to decline to $520 this year from $935 in 2007, according to our data.
On the horizon, even more advances await. LG’s gorgeous 55-inch Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) TV won CNET’s coveted “Best of Show“ award, and it was one of the most buzzed about products at CES. The TV has a brilliant display viewable from practically any angle, Internet connectivity and 3D, and it is just 4 mm thin. A compelling, yet further-in-the-future technology, is 4K HDTV. With four times the resolution of a 1080p HD stream, Samsung’s 4K TV was almost better than real life.
Mobility is paramount. Smartphones and tablets continue to be the hot items in consumer electronics overall. New tablets were unveiled by many large and small manufacturers, as 2012 is set to be another year of impressive sales of the devices. With tablets gaining favor, Intel introduced a new category of ultra-slim laptop, Ultrabooks, made quite a splash at CES with more than 40 introduced. According to CEA data, mobile computing is set to increase to $34.8 billion this year from $31.4 billion in 2011.
Interestingly, we also are seeing blurring of the lines with smartphones and tablets, most notably with the Samsung Galaxy Note. With a 5.3-inch screen and pen stylus allowing for easy note taking, the Note has the screen size functionality of a tablet, yet can fit in a pocket like a smartphone.
For decades and decades, computers have added processing and computing power, and now we’re seeing a similar trend with mobile devices. Many new smartphones were announced at CES with brilliant 4-inch screens, accessing 4G networks and with quad-core chips. The computers that once sat on our desks are now in the palm of our hands.
Mobile devices will power our health and fitness and other exciting accessories. One of the implications of all that mobile computing power is how these devices increasingly work with other electronics products.
Among many hot accessories at CES were health and fitness monitors. BodyMedia FIT is an arm-band that tracks calories burned and sleeping patterns, and the data can then be accessed through apps and an online portal. Other exercise monitors gather data on cycling speed, running distance and heart rate, and then wirelessly transmit them to your devices.
The implications for sensors interacting with your smartphone, computer or tablet are huge, transcending exercise and health, by allowing you to remotely control your car air-conditioner on a hot day, monitor your home’s energy use or track your child’s whereabouts. This development is huge for the consumer electronics and consumers alike – it’s innovation that has the power to improve our quality of life for us all.