The Nitty Gritty from Consumer Electronics Show

Greetings from Las Vegas on The King’s Birthday, where everything is so much more… where Cirque du Soleil meets Viva Elvis. Where everything’s sexier in Paris, thanks to Barry Manilow. A couple of observations on what looks cool, and even better what looks hot, in my usual terms of successful market entry:

3-D TV. No stranger to the show floor, but so much more this year. Emboldened by successful entertainment ventures, all major TV manufacturers and gaming systems makers featured wowzie displays of 3-D, with requisite weird Terminator glasses. None of it makes sense unless there’s a successful market entry at play, though, and the most feasible one I learned about was at the Panasonic mega-booth. Here, a rep from Dish TV announced that Dish will launch a 3-D content package, with the promise of plenty of 3-Dness via ESPN and other networks, and dedicated paid content channels for subscribers. Supposed to be a nationwide launch in June, let’s watch it and see the uptake from trendy consumers. Will it be worth it, and tip the scales toward broad acceptance, or will it languish a few more years? I feel that the human interface is still so awkward; any industrial designers out there who care to win world domination by fixing that?

Google phone. Motorola staff showed me two new models at their booth, for AT&T and Verizon. There’s a stickiness to the devices that further insinuates them into users’ daily routines: upon activation, users load up every bit of their social network life into the device, and so much more, and it never forgets. Facebook, Twitter, MySpace… it’s all there, all the time, always. But here’s where I see a market shift taking place: the inclusion of Google’s mapping and location siting technology. That single factor signals the death of another consumer market sector: portable GPS systems. Why will I need a Garmin or TomTom device if I buy a Google phone? I cross-checked my theory at their respective booths, and saw Garmin continuing its strong action sports and wilderness positioning that transcends concerns about mobile phone coverage areas. But – where does this leave their market for standalone devices?

So much more to come. Hint: powering our future through inductive coupling technology.

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