It seems that as technological progress marches on, the impact of new technologies on marketers becomes more and more a game of placing bets on untested innovations and hoping for the best. CES 2019 is no different; another year, another almost impossible-to-fathom roster of devices designed to enhance the lives of every possible type of consumer. It’s nearly impossible to track them all of course, but here are our top 5 tech takeaways from what we feel is one of the more ambitious CES shows Las Vegas has seen in a number of years.
Video marketing is still hot; video marketers are still overburdened
You can’t help but get a sense that the tech industry isn’t as interested in blowing people’s minds as refining existing technologies to better serve consumers
No fewer than a half-dozen new VR headsets, massive modular screen technologies from Samsung, and 8K HDR high-refresh rate displays are everywhere this year, proving that technologists are eking ever-closer to providing consumers with perfect lifelike images. When you couple these amazing displays with what appears to be a somewhat surprising second-wind for virtual reality and a whole slew of personal screens – new laptops with enhanced displays, new tablets, new phones – and the field of addressable display formats in every marketer’s arsenal just got a whole lot bigger, again. Our takeaway? Great content will continue to trump great displays (whether you can roll them up or not), but the era of a single format like 16:9 1080p is over and every campaign and production, big or small, needs to adjust accordingly.
If 4G made your mobile device a bit faster, save for those times you’re trapped in a crowded conference center at the largest gathering of tech companies in the world, then 5G changes the game completely. Technologists are quick to point out that 5G isn’t merely a faster internet, it’s a sea change in the entire internet will function. Just as the iPhone revolutionized the way the world communicates, 5G is set to usher in a true set of useful IoT devices that will profoundly change our lives – and it isn’t only all about the speed this time around.
Gaming continues to be where the real innovation happens
Huge keynotes from the likes of NVIDIA and other gaming heavyweights might not seem of much interest to the average advertiser, but you need look no further than the likes of NVIDIA, Razer, Alienware (Dell), HP, and others to see what we’ll all be talking about at CES 2020 and beyond. Gamer demand for the latest, greatest, and fastest appears to once again be driving the innovations of most of the rest of the industry. No one at CES is demoing a new TV without boasting of its gaming capabilities, and Intel and AMD are here in force to remind you that every single one of those CPU enhancements we enjoy in every device we use got its start with an eye toward better gaming. While capitalizing on Fortnite’s appeal remains something of a mystery to most marketers, CES has taken notice and is using gaming as excuse to go all-in on 3 things: bigger, better, and more beautiful.
Alexa has quietly taken over the world, and Google is more than a bit jealous
You’re almost hard-pressed to find a technology at CES 2019 that doesn’t play nice with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. Televisions, IoT devices, you name it, Alexa has a skill for just about everything imaginable now. With Alexa now to voice assistants as iPad is to tablets, Google is betting bigger than ever that their Google Assistant can steal more than a slice of the voice-controlled pie. Hardware partnerships with the likes of Lenovo, appliance partnerships with Whirlpool and GE, and all manner of potentially life-enhancing device alignments with Philips, eMotorWorks, Moen, and more, are clear demonstrators that Google isn’t about to sit by idly and let Amazon own voice. Perhaps a simpler solution might have been to give Google Assistant a catchier name than Google Assistant. But what do I know?
Wellness is alive and well, if not particularly exciting this year
We’d hate to think that it takes an Apple or a Microsoft to light a fire under the collective asses of the health-tech industry, but despite a strong showing of new products this year, none of them have quite the impact or obvious potential of an Apple Watch. That said, many of the smaller, quieter innovations excite nonetheless, particularly those that look to help us eat better – think IoT kitchen gadgets. Once merely the novelty of promising a livestream of MSNBC on our refrigerator, this year’s line-up is not only more affordable, it has a far stronger focus on usefulness and consumer health.
And the rest / what’s next?
Predictions are for people who don’t mind being wrong a lot, not us. That said, looking back at how tech is evolving to suit more immediate and useful needs – a walking, disaster-ready car vs. a self-driving car, as example – you can’t help but get a sense that the tech industry isn’t as interested in blowing people’s minds these days as it is refining existing technologies to better serve the lives of consumers. For us marketers, this may finally signal a phase in which we spend less time chasing tech’s latest and greatest, mindlessly bloviating about the industry impact of it all, and more time thoughtfully addressing the ever-present elephant in the room: privacy. Everyone at CES is all too aware of the ‘P-word’ this year, and we should be. While this next generation of ultra-high definition wearable go-anywhere/do-everything gadgets opens up a lot of possibilities for marketers, consumers (and many CES exhibitors) are hyper-aware of the absolute need for privacy control. We expect CES 2020 will highlight a new generation of gadgets specifically designed to keep us engaged offline as well as on.