BLOG STARTUPS, VENTURE AND THE TECH BUSINESS

January 11 2010
by Thanasis Delistathis

Themes from this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES)

I had a chance to walk the floor of CES in the past few days and thought I would share what stood out for me.  This of course is not meant in any way as a conclusive list and there has been plenty of coverage in the press about all things interesting.  My summary is more like the answer to a friend who might ask me about what stood out.  In summary: 3D TV, tablet PCs and e-readers, connected living room and car technology.

  • 3D TV: In fact this could just be the summary of this year’s show.  It was hard to go another 50 yards on the show floor without another exhibitor showing off something to do with 3D TV.  It was the major theme in the exhibits of all major consumer electronics manufacturers.  I must say that going into the show I was under the impression that 3D TV is a ways off from being a mainstream consumer technology.  Coming out of the show, I think this could easily become mainstream in the next 5 years.  3D (or stereoscopic) imaging is based on a technique that creates the illusion of depth by presenting a slightly different image to each eye.  The display technologies for presenting such stereoscopic image pairs to the viewer are quite varied with varied pluses and minuses and results.  One thing is for sure however: it is a very attractive way to enjoy certain types of content, such as sports, movies and documentaries.  And it is coming to our living rooms soon.  It is no accident that ESPN and Discovery announced recently to creation of all new 3D channels.  One concern about 3D technology is that it creates strain on the eyes.  Here is a link that a friend sent me.  No matter what, I think the technology is here to stay.

3DTV

  • Tablet PCs and e-readers:  It is widely expected that Apple will unveil a new consumer device in the form of touch screen tablet.  And it is not a new idea.  Other manufacturers have been working on similar concepts.  Steve Ballmer of Microsoft unveiled some of those products in his keynote address that kicked off the conference and highlighted the HP tablet.  In the meantime there were a whole slew of e-reader devices designed for reading books, newspapers and periodicals.  The WSJ had a nice overview of the new entrants.  It is hard for me to predict whether the hype is justified and how this will play out in terms of mainstream adoption.  My partner Scott has argued that tablets have a special set of use cases that can make them quite useful tools if designed well.  I tend to agree.  It will be interesting to see what Apple does with its tablet.  Apple has a history of dramatic leaps in functionality when it enters a product market that is not new (think iPhone).  At the same time, however, I have a tough time imagining a wide range of average consumers spending $500 for a single purpose device like an e-reader.  I haven’t touched and played with any of the e-reader devices and some may make it a very pleasant experience (many people like the Kindle) to read papers and books, but I imagine that the other tablet can do that and a lot more and there only so many things a consumer will carry.

BallmerTabletHP

  • Connected living room: I have talked about this in a previous blog post.  With more video content on the internet many tech companies are seeking to allow users to access that content easily on their TV sets in the leaving room.  This may finally be the year when this trend takes a giant leap forward.  Borrowing a strategy from Apple’s Appstore, Vudu and Samsung have separately announced platforms allowing third parties to offer user services on TVs and Blu-Ray players.  Vudu has moved away from hardware to an all-software strategy.  In the meantime DivX announced DivX TV, a piece of software that can be licensed by OEMs to enable their TVs and media players to connect to internet content through a nice user interface.  Boxee continues to make a player that can play all kinds of content and Microsoft is making another run at this with their Media Center on Windows Center PCs and Media Room on setop boxes (they have a partnership with AT&T).  This trend is really picking up steam and could change the way we consume content on TVs.

DivxTV

  • Car technology: We spend a lot of time in our cars.  Our mobile phones have become mini computers and so we naturally can do more things in our cars that are dangerously distracting.  Increasingly the trend is to access information on the phone through the car interface, such as when making a call from the contacts database or listening to songs in the phone’s music library.  However, the problem with car technology in general has been that it is mostly hard-coded.  That is, cannot be updated for new advances in technology.  It gets designed a couple years in advance of when a car is sold, so by the time the car is a couple of years old, it is a few generations out of touh, based on the refresh rate of mobile phone technology.  FORD announced a new platform technology for cars called myford, based on Microsoft’s SYNC technology.  It basically is a dynamic dashboard that can be updated with a redesigned way of engaging the driver (through voice or touch).  As part of the redesign, FORD also unveiled an API and set of tools that would allow app developers of mobile apps to allow for app control through the car interfaces.  The company demo’ed three apps from Stitcher (Smart News/Talk Radio), Pandora (Smart Music Radio), and OpenBeak (Twitter access).  FORD will introduce this interface in cars starting this year and expects 80% of its cars to have it within 5 years.  Nice to see a car company really innovate in this area!

myford

COMMENTS

January 11 2010
by NewAtlanticVentures

From the NAV Blog: Themes from this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) http://bit.ly/7AUXDe

January 11 2010
by Thanasis Delistathis

Themes from this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) http://bit.ly/89LJje

January 12 2010
by Tech Breaking News

OpenNetworkers.info: Themes from this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES): I had a chance to walk the floor of CES i http://url4.eu/16Pfu

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