IP and Storage In Everything
(sponsor Lok Technology) 1.5 million square feet of show space, 200,000 attendees, and boy are my feet tired after a day in Las Vegas at this year's Consumer Electronics Show. I was really glad to have been at the show this year, but it was completely over-the-top and I hope I never have to go again. Worse than any Comdex I attended, by far. Actually, the death of Comdex last year probably contributed to the size and breadth of the show. I had the opportunity to walk the floor with Satjiv Chahil for a few hours and he observed that "Finally Comdex and CES have been combined..."
But part of that sense that these two shows have combined comes from the collision of the two industries. Computer companies are finally recognizing that they must have great consumer design in their products. For example, check out the products being manufactured by the Taiwanese company BenQ. Remember Acer? That is where the BenQ brand came from. But in just three years they have rocketed into a top position for LCD displays by providing great consumer designs. They now have a product line that rivals Sony for breadth in consumer electronics/computing products with MP3 players, computers, home entertainment systems, etc.
While computer companies are learning about consumer design, the traditional consumer electronics companies are learning about computing. The new religion is IP connectivity and data storage in every device. As one example, Sharp was showing a television set that had a built in DVR which could also connect to your home Microsoft Network via WiFi. Yes, you can record Desperate Housewives and transfer the file over to your home PC just like moving a file around from one PC to another on a home network.
In fact, I would go so far as to say that every interesting new consumer electronics product either has data storage or network connectivity or both. And all of the devices are learning to talk to each other. 2005 will be an impressive year for the digital home movement.
A few other show observations:
Worst Marketing Idea -- SBC's "U-verse" name for its new bundled data services offering
Biggest Marketing Flop -- Sony with nothing new to say, nothing new to show, and even their new Qualia brand is a complete failure with nothing that comes close to last year's B&O lineup (yes, I got into their miserable "invitation only" display area). But the biggest flop for Sony was herding show goers into a 6-minute movie that did more to promote the Ford Mustang brand and the Hummer brands than anything Sony manufactures. Trap me for 6 minutes and all you want to show me is a bunch of kids speeding around in a mustang? Are your marketing people morons?
Weirdest Marketing Idea -- Motorola put a MOUNTAIN in the parking lot, covered it with snow, and hired snowboarders to do tricks. Yes, I am serious, snowboarders in a parking lot in Las Vegas. What were they advertising? Who knows!
Best Flat Screen HDTV Designs -- The new Aquos brand from Sharp. Stunningly beautiful.
Most Amusing Celebrity Sighting -- Watching Jeffrey Pulver lose money playing Poker at the Bellagio.
Most Surprising Celebrity Sighting -- Paul Allen standing around in the Microsoft booth chatting with anyone who walked up ("How about those Seahawks!").
Best Geek moment on the strip -- The news ticker at Bally's streaming the news that Six Apart has acquired blogging company LiveJournal
Weirdest insider tip -- from a Real Media employee who admitted that they went on the web to etradeshowgirls.com to hire their booth staff.
Best CES moment -- getting on the plane to come home.