Lessons From CES: It’s Always All About People


I have just returned from Las Vegas, where I joined tens of thousands of gamblers on their yearly pilgrimage, looking for, praying for, the Big Bet.

To give you context, I was attending the annual CES (Consumer Electronics Show), an event that I have been attending since 1996 — and to give you some more context, the DVD was introduced at the show that year.

And a little more context: COMDEX — which in its day was one of the largest computer shows in the world (a show that I also attended) — closed its exhibition floors in 2004 when it could no longer compete and the industry swung its support behind CES, finally understanding that consumers do buy computers, and that business people are consumers, too.

But here is the most important context — my mentor and friend Irwin Gotlieb, during his legendary tour of the CES Show Floor, recounted that when he first attended COMDEX to buy a computer for his office, 1 gig of memory cost in the vicinity of $400,000; today that same 1 gig costs less than two pennies, and therein lies the dynamic of betting today: As costs go down, so do margins, and the need to hit big and fast is critical — just ask Amazon about Fire Phone.

This year the show expanded, yet again, and the miles of exhibition hall rows and the endless hotel suites and the myriad meetings in cafes and corridors were populated with everything from the latest chip technology, to smartphone batteries that recharge in seconds, to cars that park themselves in parking lots, to monitors that connect you with your doctor, to drones, to mind-blowing virtual reality, to home of today’s future, to yes — the latest and greatest large-screen TV sets and one of my favorites, a home-sized dry cleaner/presser, and more stuff in between and around than you could ever imagine.

Here are some links that are worth following to get a good view of the range:

Shelly Palmer CES 2015

The Year Ahead in Ad Tech by Rob Norman

Hebrew and Chinese were two of the critical languages spoken at the show, as the “start-up nation” and the “developing empire” fielded many of the most interesting and promising technology and applications (not apps).

It’s also important to understand the shift in power over the years, as Samsung and LG gain in prominence, Motorola disappears, Sony shrinks, Microsoft is no longer on the floor, and Ford and other car manufacturers take pole positions while Intel continues to be a powerhouse.

Enough background. Let me share my thoughts and the learnings I took away — and as I said, I will not comment on specific items; there is just so much already well-written and I would only add to the clutter.

What I found fascinating was the punditry around technology and how the show wasn’t about objects; somehow it was really about Digital magic, Big Data and the future — and it was for sure, as it always has been, but in the end,…

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