Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now


CES Musings

Opening day of the 2013 International CES may have been Tuesday, but for those of us in the media it was 24 hours earlier on “Media Day,” where members of the press, bloggers and other assorted analysts of various stripes get a preview of what attendees get to see on Day One in person … or live via a variety of media that CE technology provides to society.

CES has become, in the words of a former TWICE reporter, Greg Scoblete, “a cultural touchstone.” At lunch Monday with yours truly and TWICE senior editor Alan Wolf, the three of us agreed that CES can also be considered “a cultural icon,” in Wolf’s words.

Just about everyone around the globe uses CE products of some type every day, which is why everyone is interested in this industry and this show.

(You’d think with all the interest there would be more profits — any profits — for most companies involved … but that is a discussion for another blog.)

I got hit with the international aspect of the show via emails that day from home, and walking the show floor on Tuesday.

About the emails — I received one from a friend’s 20 year-old son who was born and raised in New Jersey but moved to Germany a decade ago when his dad got a new job.

We were in touch about him possibly staying with my wife and I in Brooklyn when he interns in the New York area this summer. When I wrote to him on Monday that I’d get back to him by the end of the week since I was at Vegas attending the show, he responded, “You’re killing me! I’ve always wanted to go to CES.”

Everyone, worldwide, knows about CES. That’s why “CES” is now no longer the “Consumer Electronics Show” but its own word, known worldwide, no matter the language. And the international aspect hit me in the face on the show floor on Day One. I noticed more conversations in more foreign languages than ever before. And not the usual Chinese, Japanese or Korean, but discussions from natives of Europe, South America, Australia, New Zealand … heck even from Iowa or Wyoming.

And what did I learn from the annual “speed dating” exercise at CES called “Media Day”? If you lose your smartphone, you’re DOOMED.

Your smartphone not only enables you to interact with everyone in your life via phone, text, email and social media, but it will become your remote to control your TV, your heating/cooling system, the monitor of your “food-management system” (refrigerator) that will tell you to replace the Brie that has become too ripe in there. It will turn on your washer/dryer, monitor your elderly parent, monitor your children (even monitor your significant other), remind you what music, movies or books to consume … etc., etc., etc.

If you lose your smartphone and don’t have some kind of Cloud backup or security device for it, you’re in terrible trouble. And all of this interaction is wonderful, if it works seamlessly, which, alas we all know it doesn’t.

Which reminds me of part of the conversation we had during the annual TWICE Retail Roundtable (to appear in print and online in February), where the retailers and distributors assembled pointed out that even when a consumer does research on a tablet or a home-theater system, it still takes them six months or more to figure out how to use all of the fabulous functions of their device.

Keeping in touch with those customers to help them learn the capabilities — and maybe sell them services and some accessories to achieve their goals — is a major opportunity.

In an industry without a major hit that everyone can lean on for traffic and profits, getting up close with your customers is a major opportunity for greater sales and — yes that word again — profits!