CES 2011 in Review

CES 2011 in Review David Berkowitz Senior Director of Emerging Media & Innovation 360i blog.360i.com

Transcript of CES 2011 in Review

CES 2011 in Review

David Berkowitz

Senior Director of Emerging Media & Innovation



22www.360i.com Proprietary & Confidential


After returning from the Consumer Electronics Show (2011) in Vegas

in January, I compiled the highlights, along with a few thoughts on

what all of this means for marketers, consumers, technologists, and

others interested in the space.

Photos are my own unless otherwise noted. More photos from CES

can be found at http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidberkowitz/ .

I welcome your thoughts on any or all of this. Respond to me on

Twitter at @dberkowitz or email [email protected], or reach

360i at @360i or via its Digital Connections blog at blog.360i.com.

Thanks for taking the time to check this out.

- David

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Mobile studio

Everyone’s got to figure out how to

share info on the fly. Those who are

really serious sport this kind of mobile

broadcasting backpack that will aim to

find a signal on any network it can.

I went more portable. I left my better

camera in the hotel room, opting for my

pocket-sized Panasonic Lumix and the

occasional iPhone shot.

The biggest challenge at an event like

CES is the bandwidth is terrible. Relying

on 3G and WiFi will stymie most media-

sharing hobbyists.

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Check-ins? Check.

Sure enough, you could find some

rewards for checking in at various booths

and venues. To the left, there’s an entry

to win a Motorola prize pack, plus a

Foursquare drink deal at the Wynn.

It’s great that a bunch of these deals

were out there. Yet I rarely saw them

promoted by the venues themselves.

There was a bigger problem: awful

wireless access. Even sending texts

proved challenging. You’d have to be

determined to keep up the check-ins.

During peak times, there were about 500

people or so checked into the main CES

event listing on Foursquare. Not bad for

an event, but this is from a crowd of

140,000 tech savvy attendees. A total of

13,500 people have checked into the Las

Vegas Convention Center since

Foursquare’s debut.

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Portable power

Image source: Zagg.com

As someone who spends a lot of time on

the road and at events, I’m obsessed

with portable power.

Energizer showcased a slew of adapters

at a press event, but I haven’t tried


Recently I picked up the Zaggsparq 2.0

portable charger with 2 USB ports and

supposedly 4 full iPhone charges. I’m

skeptical that it has that much juice,

but I loved having it in my jacket

pocket as my Droid and iPhone ran low

after nights of too much texting.

I won the smaller charger from Case-

Mate with adapters for various devices.

It’s got a quirky, often frustrating

design, but it’s only $40 and much

smaller and lighter. So far so good.

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Crowdsourced products

Quirky’s one of the more fascinating

companies I’ve come across in recent

years. It crowdsources product

development, and people who influence

the product earn a percentage of its


The gift bag included some fun Quirky

products, and I’ll have to pay a visit to

their NY office.

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Wearable and wantable

When it comes to CES product launches

that people I know will actually buy, the

Nike+ SportWatch GPS is way up there.

It’s not the first GPS watch, but it syncs

up seamlessly with the Nike+ online

community, which is also undergoing

regular upgrades. I didn’t realize, for

instance, that if you see someone share

that they’re running on Facebook, you

can cheer them on and the runner will

hear your cheer live.

Also hot: the SportWatch’s USB plug in

the wristband. This kind of slender,

partially exposed plug is becoming more

common as devices keep getting more


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Internet refrigerator, take 36947191

All devices are becoming digital, and

more are Internet-enabled too.

I was fascinated by LG’s new line of

appliances that connect to the internet

for a range of purposes, from managing

power consumption to updating the

best ways to care for your clothes and


I was all the more impressed with the

guy to the left’s multitouch skills.

What’s not clear is if it will still be

really simple to have these appliances

do what they’re really supposed to do:

clean your clothes, and cool and cook

your food.

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Which robot floor cleaner are you?

Odd microtrend: all the robot floor

cleaners demoed at CES.

Living in a cramped Manhattan

apartment, figuring out which robot

should clean my floor is hardly a top

priority. I wouldn’t mind one of those

Jetsons cars that fits in your pocket


Robotics should be a fun area of CES to

watch, and I wouldn’t be surprised to

see massive robotics pavilions to spring

up before long.

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That’s one crowded living room

Whoa, the living room’s getting

crowded. Interactive TV was


•Logitech promoted its Google-powered

TV search.

•This is further powered by Intel, which

promoted its Smart TV technology.

•TiVo is still trying to stay relevant with

its souped up DVRs.

•Yahoo promoted its interactive TV


•Microsoft has a slew of TV software and

hardware, from media players to TV

chat to Xbox Kinect.

That’s just a start. There will be a cycle

of understanding building the next few

years. Consumers will learn what’s

possible, and brands will learn what

consumers really want.

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Thinnest. Smallest. Biggest. 3Dest.

One thing CES and related shows will

always capitalize on is hyperbole.

I can’t tell you what the thinnest TV is,

the fastest laptop boot time, the

lightest mobile phone, the highest

resolution 3D TV… no clue.

It is fun seeing all of it though, even if I

can’t keep track of who’s claiming


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Off the beaten Convention Center path

CES is the definition of hyperbole.

That’s why I always look for the smaller


Two press events are annual pit stops:

Showstoppers and Pepcom’s Digital

Experience both bring a mix of players

from major brands to obscure startups.

The food’s usually pretty good too. The

better part of my roundup here came

from exhibitors at these events.

Social Media Club always brings a lot of

great people together after hours.

Catching up with founder Chris Heuer is

one of my favorite CES traditions.

I also had a good time at the official

CES Tweetup at the Hilton. Both the

crowd and exhibitors were much better

than I expected.

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They say the media shall inherit

Major media companies are creating so

much of the content that consumers are

flocking to on all these new devices, so

it makes sense for them to have a

notable presence at CES.

The most notable? NBC Universal, with

anchors such as Chris Matthews

broadcasting live from the MSNBC desk

and the central stage that shifted

themes each day, from SyFy to Bravo to

Oxygen. I got to sample the popcorn

balls frozen with liquid nitrogen from

Top Chef contestant Richard Blais – an

added perk.

I’m actually surprised to not have seen

other prominent exhibitions from those

on the content side, though they were

clearly represented among attendees,

including at events such as Digital


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Is this the place to launch a brand?

Maybe it is.

Reese’s came out with Peanut Butter

Cup Minis during the show, with plenty

of free samples to go around.

There was no clear connection between

the product and the event, even if

someone told me that a messaging point

was that technology keeps getting

smaller, so Reese’s do too. Actually, at

CES, most tech companies focused on

their biggest products; tiny goods don’t

make for the best photo opps.

No one seemed to care. I asked a brand

marketer friend for his take, and he

hoped there was no real connection.

The randomness of it excited him, and

that – with the orange-yellow-brown

branding too boot – may be the way to

stand out in a crowded market.

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Big brands, bigger ideas

I didn’t get to many panels at CES, but I

lined up early for the Entertainment

Matters keynote panel featuring The

Coca-Cola Company CMO Joe Tripodi,

along with leaders from MediaLink,

Akamai, IPG, Microsoft, and WPP.

The money quote came from Tripodi:

“We’re more in the space of managing

communities than creating ads.” He

referred to community management

several times, while other times decrying

push marketing as passé.

Think about what just happened. This

CMO of one of the biggest brands and

advertisers in the world wanted to talk

about anything but advertising.

With Coke’s 22 million Facebook fans

(and growing) – an American Idol sized

audience – that he can reach for $0 in

media spend, he’s on to something.

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Pay it forward

The entire payments field is being

upended. There’s tremendous upside for

a range of players here: Apple and Google

with their app stores, PayPal for peer-to-

peer and merchant transactions, P2P

startups like Venmo, B2C tech like

Square, and the mobile carriers

themselves for direct billing.

Two more to watch:

1) Mitek Systems, which developed the

technology to deposit checks by taking

pictures of them with your phone, a

feature they said will soon be ubiquitous.

They just launched Mobile Photo Bill Pay –

take pictures of bills to make a deposit.

2) Dynamics, Inc, which allows credit

cards themselves to become more

interactive, such as to switch between

multiple accounts or require PIN #s

entered on the card before using them.Image source:

Photobucket - jjagla

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Games even more distracting than ugly carpets

CES is for gamers – and gamers of all

kinds. Microsoft Kinect was a hot

product there but launched months

earlier. EA piggybacked on the console

craze to promote its active2 fitness

lineup with heart monitor armbands.

A personal favorite from the show was

Sphero, a game featuring a robotic ball

controlled by a smartphone. I got to

demo it and while its responsiveness

was a little haphazard, it should be a

ton of fun when it launches, especially

since they’re opening up the code so

anyone can create apps for it.

For those who prefer going offline,

Mattel went totally analog and

announced an Angry Birds board game.

It will probably be the first board game

many of the show’s attendees will have

bought in years.Image source:


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Return of Smell-o-vision Of all the products at CES I

encountered, here’s the one I’m LEAST

excited about: Game Skunk. Official

description: “Sensory Acumen's gaming

product GameSkunk™ is an olfactory

feedback system device that will

deliver scents connected to game play

for gaming consoles or PC/Macs.”

I don’t care whether it’s an orc, a Sim,

or an Angry Bird . I’m still wondering if

this could be some elaborate hoax.

More description: “Missing from your

game playing role is the ability to smell

the action; the smell of an alien planet,

explosions on the battle field, crashes

on the race track, and even the sweat

of the sport.” You want to smell sweat

and burning rubber?

It’s also the worst-named product. Why

not Game Rose or Game New Car or

Game Fresh Laundry or Game

Something You LIKE Smelling?

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Fine, I’ll mention the tablets

All images via The New York Times,

except bottom right Motorola Xoom via Motorola.com

Yeah, there were a ton of tablets at

CES. Occasionally I’d try to muscle my

way into the crowds gawking at them,

only to give up.

Here’s the only thing you need to know

about tablets today: don’t buy one until

the iPad 2 comes out. You’ll have

buyer’s remorse whether you get a first-

gen iPad or one of the slew of Android

models, let alone any other.

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Hunka hunka burnin’ birthday candles

What’s Vegas without Elvis?

The King’s birthday is January 8, though

I couldn’t find any peanut butter

banana birthday cake anywhere.

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David Berkowitz

• Blog: MarketersStudio.com

• Twitter: @dberkowitz

• Email: [email protected]

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