Every year I am just fascinated at how great the hardware has become and at the same time how retarded is the software used to run it ... that's of course ignoring that we have been bored to tears by 3D for the past 4 years at CES and now 4K is the new 3D. Yawn ! But for instance, smart tvs still don't have an input technology that can objectively rival and replace the 60-year-old remote control effectively, gesture and voice controls still are pretty far from the Star Trek experience, graphical user interfaces are slow, clunky and complicated. Software DNA is still firmly anchored in Silicon Valley and content creation is mainly US-based. It would be great to see some software creativity and content ecosystem coordination into this great hardware ... I'm just sayin'
Lastly, just because it's Friday and it is hilarious, here is the 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 Engadget Editors Wrap-Up (just update the numbers to n+1).
And a very relevant article that I really like from the adults at Wired:
CES 2013: Land of the Dongle, Year of the Little Guy
By Mat Honan 01.11.13 6:30 AM
[Reproduced from Wired]
LAS VEGAS — The reaction to CES 2013 has been, for the most part, a resigned collective shrug. There were curved OLED TVs and 4K TVs and connected refrigerators and smart washing machines and a lot of stuff to look at but nothing to really see.
It’s too often like that here. CES is an onslaught, an event that could only happen in Vegas. It’s a cacophony of noise, too much to make sense of. There are 150,000 people here, a small city squeezed into 1.9 million square feet. Voices compete with other voices. TVs blare at other TVs. Everything is growling and howling. It’s really hard to stand out.
That’s why so much of the talk this year has been about who isn’t here. Apple isn’t here, even if it is by proxy. Amazon isn’t here. Neither are Google or Microsoft. Those who are here have utterly failed to amaze us. It seems like this is the year of the dongle. That’s CES 2013 in nutshell: the land of the dongle. And while that’s disappointing to some people, especially gadget reporters, it’s good news for the vast majority of vendors, because this was the year the little guys stood toe-to-toe with the big guys. Well, almost.
People like to write about why CES matters or why it doesn’t matter (guilty). But the thing is, CES does matter, for one simple reason: It is a cavern of money. The cost of securing floor space and building a booth and flying people to Las Vegas and putting them up in a hotel and feeding them and schmoozing journalists and analysts and buyers is immense. You’re looking at $150,000, minimum, for anyone but the smallest vendors. But it’s an expense companies gladly make, a gamble they hope will pay off with a big business deal or three.
It’s impossible to measure the return on that investment, but it invariably pays dividends, said Garmin spokesman Jake Jacobson. A company can quickly and easily raise its profile – “build big-picture awareness,” as he put it – at CES. That’s important, even for a well-known company like Garmin, because there’s always someone who doesn’t know who you are.
All the big kids are building their big-picture awareness in the Central Hall. That’s where you’ll find Sony and Samsung and Panasonic and Intel. They’re monstrous affairs, bigger than my home and filled with millions and millions of dollars’ worth of electronics. Booth space is $20,000 and up in here, and you’re looking at another 50 grand or more for a booth.
Photo: Ariel Zambelich/Wired
Leave Central and wander around South Hall and the scene changes. Radically. Here’s where you find low-budget booths, minimalist displays and people desperate for your attention. It’s the land of iPad accessories, wireless speakers and IP cameras. And headphones. So many headphones. (Thank Beats for this, and all the musicians only too eager to slap their names on cans so the kids will buy them.) It’s a dizzying array of landfill fodder and cheap, electric crap. Walk around here long enough and you can almost feel the planet shudder under the weight off all that mercury and cadmium and PVC plastic.
“We’d just like to promote our brand,” said Kenneth Leung of Gigaflash, a Hong Kong-based flash drive maker tucked into a booth in a far corner of South Hall. It’s his company’s first time at CES. “If we can just get someone to distribute us in the U.S., we will have a success.”
He’s in the right spot. This is where you see the White Badge Holders. They’re the buyers for everyone from Sam’s Club to your local strip mall retailers. South Hall is swarming with them. They come to CES seeking bargains, and interesting products to stock their shelves. There are virtually no buyers to be found in Central Hall because all that stuff will end up in Best Buy and Walmart and Costco anyway. It’s preordained.
But for the little guys, the guys filling South Hall, CES is a make-or-break situation, and those buyers are their saviors. They have to get a buyers’ attention. And because there aren’t any must-see, gotta-have products from the giants from Korea and Japan and China this year, that attention is easier than ever to get.
“I’m mostly concentrating on accessories and headphone brands,” says Elan Rosenberg, a buyer for Barney’s Electronics, a consumer electronics wholesaler and retailer. “Some of the TV technology is cool, but I’m going to sell it regardless so it’s not something I’m focused on.”
If you look at the products that did stand out this year, aside from a TV or two from LG and Samsung, or maybe Sony’s new water-resistant Xperia phone, all of the buzz surrounds products from second-tier companies, or even fourth- or fifth-tier. This is the year of the North and South halls. And the stuff in the Venetian, where the startups are. And the stuff you had to take a cab to the other hotels to see.
Perhaps the biggest company to make a true splash was Nvidia, with its Shield gaming device. But mostly, we were wowed by the likes of Withings Smart Activity Tracker and Fitbit Flex. The Oculus Rift, a Kickstarter project no less, was one of the most interesting virtual reality products we’ve yet seen. The Pebble smartwatch, another Kickstarter product, was another standout, as were the Cubelets robots from Modular Robotics and touchscreen tablets from One Laptop Per Child.
There will always be dongles and cases and headphones at CES. There will always be big, impractical televisions few people will ever buy. But this lackluster year has meant that many small companies have had the chance, for once, to really stand out.
Or not. CES is almost over. For some of the 3,000 or so vendors here, a window of opportunity is closing. I asked Leung if he’s met any buyers, had any big orders.
“No, not really,” he says, “and probably not now. This is the first time here. We are learning.”
i blog about the things I love: fitness, hacking work, tech, Experiences and anything holistic.
> Head of Digital Product at Nutrien