CES 2016—Observations for Product People
CES is the best place to go to see and learn about making products. In one place you can see the technology ingredients available to product makers along with how those ingredients are being put together and how they are interacted with and connected to customers.
I love going to CES and walking the show floor north to south, convention center to Sands and seeing and touching the products, including the way random show-goers perceive and question what is out there.
As much as I love attending, I also love taking a step back and thinking (and writing) about what I learned. Doing so provides great context for me in working with startups on their products, talking with enterprise customers about their needs, and partnering with bigger companies to enhance their go to markets.
As a reminder, CES is not a big electronics store nor is it a research lab. It is somewhere in between. While there are many ready-buy products on display, most are not yet ready to use. Many of the most interesting technologies are not yet in products. Most companies are working to put forth their best vision for where things are heading. It has always worked best for me to think about the show directionally and not as a post-holiday shopping excursion. Equally important is keeping in mind that I’m not the customer for everything one can see.
This is a long post. The breadth of CES is unprecedented. The show is not “consumer electronics” or even “home entertainment” but it every industry. Where else would you see booths from car companies, delivery services, film studios, computer makers, electronics component makers, cable tv companies, mobile phone carriers, micro processor and chip makers, home improvement superstores, and so on. From startups to mega-caps, from every country, from supply chain components to complete products everything is represented. The opportunity is unique.
CES has become a software show. Even the interesting hardware is dominated by firmware, cloud services, and connectivity. It is increasingly clear that if you’re interested in software you have to be interested in pretty much every booth. I’ve heard software is eating the world and that’s on display in Las Vegas.
The major observations impacting product makers and technology decision makers on display at CES 2016 include:
- Invisible finally making a clear showing (almost)
- Capable infrastructure is clearly functional (almost)
- Residential working now, but expectations high and software not there
- Wearable computing focusing on fitness
- Flyable is taking off
- Drivable is the battle between incremental and leapfrog
- Screens keep getting better
- Image capture is ubiquitous
- Small computers better and cheaper for everyone
- Big computers better but not game changing