The 2012 Consumer Electronics Show marked the 45th meeting of electronics manufacturers, and the show set records in terms of attendance (153,000), exhibitors (3,100), and floor space (1.85 million square feet). Marketers descended upon Las Vegas in droves, with nearly 500 attendees from VivaKi agencies and their clients alone. This solidified the importance of the show as not just a venue to showcase new products, but as a key stop for marketers to identify future consumer trends, consider their long-term strategies, and to meet with media owners and content creators.
This year’s show was not marked by any new standout devices, such as the 3D televisions showcased in 2010, or the overwhelming number of tablets presented in 2011. Instead, the key theme of in 2012 was a simple idea that is far more difficult to achieve: the concept of Universal Connectivity. Universal Connectivity is the ability to access content on virtually any device.
The ecosystem that drives Universal Connectivity requires three key components:
For pure lust factor, LG’s super-thin 55-inch Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) connected television with 3D capability won the Best of Show award. Slated to ship in Q3, the device is only 4MM thick, has virtually no frame, and has a 100 million to 1 contrast ratio, which is 50 times greater than current LED models. A price tag has not been established, but some experts have estimated the cost to run as high as $10,000.
True to form, Samsung delivered a stylish experience for attendees. Like LG, TVs were a core component in the booth. Always known for design, Samsung unveiled gorgeous new connected TVs and an OLED set as well, but the most interesting development is Samsung’s push to develop its own proprietary app marketplace (branded SmartHub), which includes advertising opportunities. On the app home page and within apps, brands can deliver 2D or 3D videos as well as interactive advertisements into the living room. Advertisements will be dynamic, allowing audiences to click to access video content, to download new applications, or to visit an advertiser’s website via a browser. Samsung has established partnerships with YuMe as well as Rovi to represent ad inventory.
3D and smart televisions were at the core of LG’s presence at the show, and while we still believe 3D will struggle to achieve mass consumer adoption, the smart (or connected) TV will become a central component of a consumer’s multiplatform experience. LG showcased a new Google TV set, which runs on the Android operating system, has a full QWERTY keyboard, and also takes advantage of LG’s new Magic Motion remote, which has similar functionality to a Wii remote but also includes voice search. The device is an example of the drive toward an ecosystem that works across platforms, as the television integrates seamlessly with Android smartphones and tablets, allowing consumers to control the TV from another Android device. It should be noted that Google is making a second go of the Google TV platform after lackluster performance in 2011. While the user interface may be much improved, the central question about the availability of premium content through the platform still lingers. LG has also partnered with digital ad network YuMe to represent ad inventory on its line of connected TVs. Partnerships like this give advertisers an opportunity to tap into the burgeoning connected TV space, which combines the ten-foot experience of television with the measurement capabilities of digital.
The key theme for Microsoft was an increasingly integrated interface (UI) first developed for phones, consumers can expect the tile-based experience to become more prevalent across all Windows devices. We have already seen a revamp of the Xbox 360 UI, and other devices including PCs and tablets will begin to adopt the same experience. This approach supports the notion that consumers want a consistent experience across devices.
Samsung has also embraced the Android operating system, and is often the first original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to deploy the latest version of Google’s operating system. The Galaxy Nexus smartphone is the first to run Android 4.0 (also known as Ice Cream Sandwich). The 4G device has a 4.65-inch high definition display, can record video in 1080p high definition, and includes a Near Field Communications (NFC) chip, which allows for payments through the device. Device technical specs:Screen • 4.65" HD(1280 x 720) Super AMOLED • Contour Display (curved glass) Size (mm) • 67.94 X 135.5 X 9.47 (LTE) Weight • 145.5 g (5.1 OZ) Data • LTE/CDMA • WiFi• Bluetooth Memory • Storage: 32GB • Memory: 1GB RAM Camera • 5MP continuous auto focus • 1.3MP Front • LED Flash • Zero shutter lag • Video recording in 1080p Features • Battery: 1850mAh • OS: Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) • CPU: 1.2 GHZ dual core processor • Notification: 3 color LED • Mics: 2 Mics• Buttonless• NFC • Accelerometer • Gyro • Compass • Proximity/Light • Barometer
The introduction of the Samsung Note also spurred much discussion among show attendees. The Note is indicative of the increasingly blurred line between tablets and smartphones. The device has a 5.3-inch display, making it larger than most phones, but certainly smaller than most tablets. It functions like a smartphone, but also includes a stylus in an effort to make content creation a bit easier on the device.Device technical specs:Network• HSPA+ up to 21Mbps 850/900/1900/2100• 4G LTE• EDGE/GPRS 850/900/1800/1900Processor• 1.4GHz Dual Core ProcessorDisplay• 5.3” WXGA (1280 x 800) screen*• HD Super AMOLEDPlatform• Android™ 2.3(Gingerbread)Camera• Main(Rear) : 8 MP with LED Flash / Front : 2 MPVideo• 1080p Full HD video recording & playback• Recording: 1080p@24~30fps/Playback: 1080p@30fps• Codec: MPEG4/ H.263/ H.264/ DivX, WMV, VC-1Multi Input• Full touch+ S Pen (Advanced smart pen) Connectivity• Bluetooth® technology v 3.0 + HS• USB 2.0 HOST• Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Wi-Fi DirectSensor• Accelerometer, Digital compass, Proximity,Barometer,LightMemory• 16GB Internal memory+ microSD (up to 32GB)Size• 146.85 x 82.95 x 9.65 mm, 178g
While a connected car was just a concept a few years ago, mobile technology has become a standard feature across all auto brands and car models. The lengthy car product development cycle and lifecycle seemed like an unavoidable detour from the autobahn to Los Angeles in rush hour. However, top auto manufacturers created a mobile HOV lane by separating mobile from the rest of the in-vehicle technology product. The focus has shifted to support of the integration of the owner’s current mobile device and the numerous hardware and software upgrades that occur during a car’s product lifecycle. This approach allows immediate access to tens of thousands of developers that can quickly create hundreds of thousands of applications specifically for in-vehicle use. No individual auto brand could offer the scale and scope of applications that a publisher community can produce. Mercedes Benz’s mbrace and Ford’s Sync were featured as branded telematics systems that offer industry-leading integration of owners’ mobile devices with the cars’ in-vehicle technologies. This strategy instantaneously aligns the auto brands with the value proposition and positive perceptions mobile devices enjoy.
Ericsson is pushing the idea of Universal Connectivity even further. The company that invented Bluetooth showed off its Connected Me technology, which allows a user to transfer information—a photograph, for instance—from a mobile device to a computer screen just by touching both devices. Connected Me does this through capacitive coupling technology, which uses the human body as a conductor between the two electronic devices. In the future, consumers themselves could be the connector that enables data to move from place to place. Imagine a world where your car starts when you put your hands on the steering wheel, your hotel room door unlocks through a handshake. All of these concepts sound futuristic, but Ericsson is refining the capability in the lab today.
The idea of Universal Connectivity has been years in the making, and despite the seemingly obvious importance of making devices, operating systems, and services consumer-friendly, the concept still has yet to be fully realized due to differing approaches from technology companies as they attempt to build their own proprietary ecosystems. At VivaKi’s sneak peek event which took place the day before the show opened, CNET Editor-at-Large Brian Cooley called out five key companies that are arguably dominating the landscape today: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft. Each is taking a slightly different approach to the development of an ecosystem, but Cooley predicted that the market will only be able to support 2 to 3 of these long-term. As Universal Connectivity grows in importance, marketers should pay attention to four key implications that will affect their business in the future:
2012 CES Summary
2012 Consumer Electronics Show Key Trends and Highlights January 26, 20121
45th Consumer Electronics Show • January 10-13, 2012 • Records set: – 153,000 attendees – 3,100 exhibitors – 1.85 million square feet • Nearly 500 attendees from VivaKi2
Key Trend: Universal Connectivity The ability to access content on virtually any device.3
Universal Connectivity • Three key components: – Devices that can talk to each other and provide a consistent, familiar consumer experience from one to another; – A common operating system that works on multiple platforms; and – Services that enable consumers to access content seamlessly as they move from one device to the next.4
Highlights from the Floor • Four key areas – Converged Television – User Interface – Mobility – Future Connectivity6
Converged Television • Core to the show – 3D still highly visible, but OEMs shifting to internet connectivity as primary focus • Google TV 2.0 present across multiple manufacturers • Ad capabilities and partnerships burgeoning7
Converged Television LG 55-inch OLED Connected TV • Best of Show winner • 4MM thick screen • 50x contrast improvement vs. today’s LEDs8
Converged Television Samsung Smart Hub • Connected TV app marketplace • Ad opportunities through YuMe and Rovi9
User Interface • Increasing emphasis on navigation as content options explode • Addition of web-based on makes typical spatial navigation cumbersome • New technologies making gesture and voice controls feasible10
User Interface LG Magic Motion Remote • Gesture-based navigation • Voice search capability • Available on sets with Google TV11
User Interface Windows 8 User Interface • Tile-based user interface • Based on success of Windows Mobile “Metro” • Deploying across MS ecosystem12
Mobility • Devices becoming more powerful • 4G networks beginning to proliferate • Increasing fragmentation among sizes, capabilities, and price points13
Mobility Samsung Galaxy Nexus • 4.65-inch screen • 1080p video recording • NFC chip on-board • First device to run Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)14
Mobility Samsung Galaxy Note • 5.3-inch screen • Touch or stylus navigation • Blurred line between smartphones and tablets15
Mobility Mercedes and Ford • Telematics systems to bring internet into the vehicle • Allows for smartphone to deliver services via the dashboard16
Future Connectivity • Connected home beginning to become a reality • New definition of wireless on the horizon17
Future Connectivity Nest • Internet-connected thermostat • Learns its owner’s routine and adjusts to save energy18
Future Connectivity Ericsson • Connected Me technology • User becomes the conduit to transfer data from one device to another19
Key Implications for Marketers • Content is migrating across devices, so it’s important to follow the consumer; • Interoperability among devices creates an opportunity for consumers to participate with brand messages, so marketers should provide value in exchange for consumer interaction; • Content is increasingly delivered using internet protocol (IP) technology, which creates a one-to-one connection with the consumer and the opportunity to address messaging to individuals in a more relevant way; and • Data is powering the new ecosystem, so marketers must establish a data strategy that ensures future success.21