CES 2016: Glitzy Tech And Marketing Playground - InformationWeek

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1/12/2016
08:05 AM
Larry Loeb
Larry Loeb
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CES 2016: Glitzy Tech And Marketing Playground

Every year, the worlds of marketing and technology collide in Las Vegas for one week during CES. The 2016 CES, which included drones, virtual reality, and more, proved no exception.

Huawei, Toshiba, ZTE Unleash Hot Smartphones, Tablets At CES 2016
Huawei, Toshiba, ZTE Unleash Hot Smartphones, Tablets At CES 2016
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

CES has always had a special place in the tech landscape. Over the years, we got our first looks at technologies that have helped define and redefine the last three decades, including the VCR, the CD, DVD, Blu-ray, the original Nintendo Entertainment System, and the first Microsoft Xbox.

The event held every year in Las Vegas has always been a way for companies to show off toys that we ended up using in our daily lives. Unlike traditional computer shows, such as TCF, CES exhibitors have historically been given some license to show off their concepts and betaware without having a delivery date set in stone.

The early adopters roam the floors in force, looking for something that hasn't yet filtered down to the mass consumer. It's a willing collusion between these folks and the companies -- full of marketers glitzing out the promise of that unsullied and amazing product.

And market they did.

CES 2016 told us that the future will be full of drones and electric cars that can drive themselves. Drones of many types were all over the place.

(Image: Kelley Sheridan/InformationWeek)

(Image: Kelley Sheridan/InformationWeek)

Indeed, one drone shown was large enough to carry a 220-pound person over the stream of cabs going up the Las Vegas Strip -- and fly itself at the same time. Just put your destination into the app and sit back.

A China-based company named Ehang unveiled what could be the world's first autonomous flying taxi at CES. Ehang said that production models will not be available for at least a year, and the inevitable regulatory hurdles will come after that.

This is Jetsons territory, a real glimpse of the future.

The virtual reality (VR) headset wars broke out in full force at CES 2016, with Facebook's Oculus Rift finally making an appearance. However, there will be different ways to approach VR.

Rift wants you to have a super-duper gamer computer attached to it. But OSVR -- a project by gamer company Razer that partners with industry heavyweights Intel, Visionics, Unigine, and Leap Motion -- has an open source headset that costs half of the Rift headset. It can be tweaked to reflect the machine it is running on.

Even with the advent of these VR headsets, traditional display screens aren't going away anytime soon. In fact, displays are going to get a lot better very soon.

LG is getting much closer to production of its flexible OLED (organic light emitting diode) display, which would even further blur what a "wearable" means. (It's been a 10 year-long route to product.) OLEDs display light directly, rather than "twist" it as conventional LEDs do.

Samsung-made OLEDs also showed up in the rigid displays of several PCs, including the Alienware 13, Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga, HP Spectre x360, and the company's own Galaxy Tab Pro S. However, the buyer should beware: These displays won't be cheap. Right now, the ThinkPad X1 Yoga is slated to retail for about $1,650, which is pricy for a notebook. I suspect that after a certain point, like all technologies, the prices for OLED displays will drop, which will then drive mainstream adoption.

For those paying attention on the show floor, one of the most significant things that happened was when US Marshals raided the booth of Changzhou First International Trade Co.

[Check out our list of the best enterprise tech at CES 2016.]

The China-based firm was showing a single-wheel hoverboard that was a direct rip-off of the one made by Future Motion, which holds both technology and design patents on the device. This was the first instance of an exhibitor at CES having been shut down like this. It signifies that the blatant copying of products won't be tolerated at the event.

CES is a time for companies to grab our attention by any means, hawking what they have and what's to come from them. CES 2016 was no exception, and we can't wait to see the promises realized.

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Larry Loeb has written for many of the last century's major "dead tree" computer magazines, having been, among other things, a consulting editor for BYTE magazine and senior editor for the launch of WebWeek. He has written a book on the Secure Electronic Transaction Internet ... View Full Bio
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nomii
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nomii,
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1/12/2016 | 11:02:31 AM
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I think these kind of exhibitons are excellent for the tech lovers but restricting it to few places like Las Vegas is not sensible. For companys and their admirers it is essential that these exhibitions must be held across the giobe to bear its true fruit and making the tech available at the doorstep of potential customers

larryloeb
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larryloeb,
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1/12/2016 | 11:14:10 AM
Re: Expand
Only las vegas can handle the influx of 170 000 people for the weekend. It's a real logistical problem
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
1/15/2016 | 11:17:22 AM
Re: Expand

@Larryleob I am sorry I do not agree with your point of view of logistics problem. Its basically the companys looking for genuine buyers. They think Las vegas is a good place. As far as housing around 170000 people on weekend is concerned there are large number of cities who are known for more than that influx of people. You give the companys some genuine buyers and they will have that exhibition next to your place. What is your opinion?

larryloeb
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larryloeb,
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1/15/2016 | 11:34:06 AM
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I respectuflly disagree.

Those kinds of influx numbers cannot be handled by any other venue.

Let's say that they did a CES East in New York. They would not get the same numbers of attendees. 

Exhibitors would have to do two shows instead of one, and the NY show would be very expensive to show at,

Right now, CES is that one show where an industry coalesces once a year. All the players show up and do the circus. Im not sure exhibitors would welcome doing it twice a year, and having to come up with "new" stuff for it.

Nope, I don't see it, Too hard to do in New York; and not enough payoff for exhibitors.
nomii
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nomii,
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1/15/2016 | 11:40:42 AM
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@Larry loeb I agree with you now and you are basically agreeing to my point that its basically the companys needing the buyers and they are not concerned about number of people . You give that there required number of buyers they will set up the stage at your desired location. Companys need ing the buisness and not window shoppers  :). What do you say?

larryloeb
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larryloeb,
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1/15/2016 | 11:47:47 AM
Re: Expand
The stage takes many forms. Focused internet based stages are possible, and easy to do,

But getting all those people together in one place? I say it again, only Las Vegas can do it at that scale. And most attendees were window shopping, not buying. The new customer journey is not the well defined funnel it once was.

 
jastroff
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jastroff,
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1/15/2016 | 11:49:20 AM
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Make the scale smaller and have the "show" in Kalamazoo. A lovely town. Or Madison, Wisc, in the winter. 

 

We'd have less junk to look at, and fewer people to look at it.
nomii
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nomii,
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1/15/2016 | 11:53:46 AM
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@Jastroff agreed. But I am not sure these companys will do that. I myself is very much in favour of these companys leaving the US tag and start caring for ROW but to my surprise it all starts there and ends there. The people around the world will only wait for these products once they hit the market. In few regions once these products hit the market, the newer version is already being displayed in next exhibition. The things should be realeased around the world togther. What do you say?

larryloeb
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larryloeb,
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1/15/2016 | 12:03:19 PM
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The ROW, as you put it, is not one homogenous market. Yet.

Getting something sold in India is much different than in Germany.
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
1/15/2016 | 11:59:27 AM
Re: Expand
Make the scale smaller and have the "show" in Kalamazoo. A lovely town. Or Madison, Wisc, in the winter.

We'd have less junk to look at, and fewer people to look at it.


@Jastroff Can you please elaborate what do you mean by "where they stay safe". I am sure there are many safe places around the world. And secondly if people do window shopping in Las vegas I think there will be more of them in other places doing the same :)

jastroff
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jastroff,
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1/15/2016 | 12:09:38 PM
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My alternative would be to beam it to every major city, so it has no origination point. How cool would that be. Something for Apple to do with the extra cash it has from not payin taxes
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
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1/15/2016 | 4:21:10 PM
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@jastroff

Well, isn't that what Apple does with it's product announcements now?

Log in, and you are "there".
jastroff
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jastroff,
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1/15/2016 | 6:17:21 PM
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Apple has always been famous for sticking close to home. I remember back in 84 all their product announcements were coming from California. Got to be boring, and now it's REALLY boring. Same stage, same graphics, same oohs and ahhs. Same pacing back and forth. Really, how tired.

 

If you log in and you are "there", then why not do the presentation from Chicago? London? Madison? Get out there in the heartland! Krakow sounds good.

 

Or, no audience, no place. Just all on the airwaves or throught the Internet.

You can bet when AppleTV comes out, those big SHOWS they put on will now be smaller programs, suitable for broadcast.
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
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1/15/2016 | 6:50:56 PM
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It's all theatre anyway,
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
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1/15/2016 | 12:00:58 PM
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This is the regional show argument.

Smaller ones, with better visibility,

A good buddy of mine does shows, and been advocating just such an approach.

Exhibitors don't want to work that hard, though. They want to do it once with maximal "impact"
Brian.Dean
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Brian.Dean,
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1/15/2016 | 2:48:36 PM
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The CES should be well documented (video documented) with live streaming and playback. The entire show could be covered as if a documentary was being produced and buyers can later order their desired products online.

Currently, if we search YouTube for news about CES 2016, the majority of the search results are 8-minute videos produced by third party producers. CES has a dedicated YouTube channel. However, it is difficult to find information on the channel.
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
1/15/2016 | 4:22:43 PM
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@Brian

So, you want the virtual CES.

What if the exhibitors HAD to supply some video for their booth as part of the registration?
Make it searchable. Would that do it for you?
Brian.Dean
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Brian.Dean,
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1/16/2016 | 3:13:23 PM
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That is a great idea. Exhibitors should supply two types of videos, a short version that CES can include in an overview video and a long version that will attract individuals that require greater insight into a product or service.

The overview video will be good for individuals that have a limited amount of time at their disposal to watch a video and still feel confident that they have seen the majority of the tech innovation that will appear in the specific year. The detailed video would be for IT individuals that are either part of the same consumer segment or looking to expand their business into a new segment.
jastroff
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jastroff,
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1/16/2016 | 6:02:53 PM
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All well said @brian --

advanced technology is in the hands of those who can afford it, either with a trip to Vegas or the MIT Media Lab

 

For the latter, I can see the price of admission is brains. For the former, we need someone to get in there and disrupt CES's hold on the idea that the Vegas strip is the only place to be for advanced tech
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
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1/16/2016 | 9:54:04 PM
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@jastroff

I think they like the fratboys on a drunk scenario there too.
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
1/16/2016 | 9:52:59 PM
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@Brian

It does seem like a good idea, doesn't it?
jastroff
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jastroff,
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1/15/2016 | 6:19:33 PM
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@brain -- great idea

>> The CES should be well documented (video documented) with live streaming and playback. The entire show could be covered as if a documentary was being produced and buyers can later order their desired products online.

 

they want to keep it as a conference for elites -- people and companies with money to spend, fill up hotel rooms, and give people some time gambling. CES is a conference company, and is waiting to be disrupted by some group that does it as you propose. 

 
Brian.Dean
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Brian.Dean,
User Rank: Ninja
1/16/2016 | 3:29:14 PM
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@jastroff, well said. A few individuals have created YouTube channels to cover innovation in the consumer space with some success and have managed to disrupt the model. The downside on relying upon individuals from the user's perspective is that an individual can only cover a limited amount of segments, the individual might not be a regular reviewer and/or economics can influence an individual easily rather than, a large group. That is why it would be better to have a business to create virtual reviews.
Broadway0474
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Broadway0474,
User Rank: Ninja
1/18/2016 | 11:47:51 PM
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jastroff, this may be a weak analogy, but I'm going to make it. The CES is like the NFL. It should not have the power that it does, but until people en masse stop paying attention it, there's no need for either to change how they operate. And that's not likely to happen.
Whoopty
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Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
1/13/2016 | 7:17:56 AM
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I have to agree. As a UK native there is no way I can justify flying half way across the world just to look at some tech. There are other shows of course, but I'd love to at least see it move to the East coast one year to make it a bit more accessible for the rest of us.
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
1/15/2016 | 11:21:51 AM
Re: Expand

@Whoopty I agree with you. I believe that these organizers must be concious of other people around the globe. If they cannot move the exhibition around at least they can provide live coverage / streaming using the internet. They can altogether place the exhibition items in deatil for understanding of people who are not there on exhibition. It will not completely but to some extant  let more number of people get benefitted from the exhibition.

larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
1/15/2016 | 11:39:10 AM
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>Virtual shows

Now, this is something that will grow. Call them webinars or whatever, it allows for segmentation for niches.

Trades shows--any trade shows-- are sort of archaic. But you get to "feel" the product in your hands. You get to talk to real people. You can watch how others react to something. It puts the human in the equation.

And for the rest of the world? That's what CeBit is for.
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
1/15/2016 | 11:47:38 AM
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@Larryloeb I agree with you. I think restricting the exhibitions to some singular place is really letting the genuine buisness slip out of companys hand because of the "feel" reason you mentioned. I believe that doing a good kind of campaign regarding the exhibition and selecting few places around the globe and exhibiting products at smaller scale only will only let the buisness grow for these firms and not slowing it down. Virtual shows or streaming will only add the flavour to all this effort.

jastroff
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jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
1/15/2016 | 11:48:01 AM
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agree with you. It's the same reason why all Apple, MSFT, don't leave their front doors to put on a show. They stay home, where its safe. It would be nice to see Apple make their next big announcement from Vienna, or London, or Paris. 

Same goes with consumer shows - it's all US hyped and forgets about the ROW.
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
1/15/2016 | 11:57:54 AM
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Meatspace used to be imprtant. MacWorld was the only way to get to Apple wayback when.

But with the interwobblies, it;s all the sample place, just at different times of day.

Annoucements dont matter where they are done, the propogate by the net.
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