CES is the tech worlds annual fete for what will be bestowed upon consumers in the world of technology for the coming year. All I can ever think as the new year approaches is a bit of sympathy for all the corporate nerds who have to spend most of their holidays getting ready for CES and planning to hit the road to Las Vegas hard right after the new year is rung in.
Lite on exciting
Overall this year, as with last, CES wasn’t that exciting really and I saved my pennies on going out there. Tech journalists and social media posts were more than enough and left me feeling glad I’d saved a few pennies. Some nice new laptops were launched, largely, still, following cues from Apple. Voice assistants were there. Again. Lenovo came out with a nice bedside clock, which means China now wants to listen to your pillow talk sans the old school honey trap. Someone needs to invent a white-noise snoring device.
Swivels, levers and buttons
Samsung put out a new monitor that has a thing that goes up and down for your eyesight, they call it the “Space”. Alright then, variable space(s). Moving right along, LG launched OLED TV’s that remain, price-wise, out of reach for most consumers and do little beyond what most current TV’s do. The marketers call it “immersive displays”…but don’t tell anyone that the human eye can’t even see in 4K…cause 8K is on the way, hey.
Virtual reality remains…unrealistic
There are some amazing applications for VR, seriously. But they mostly remain in nice markets such as industrial training, military applications and healthcare…in other words, nothing consumers really want to spend $400 on. VR just isn’t ready for consumer markets.
The artificial intelligence wistfulness
Consumers both want and fear AI that does really cool stuff and anticipates your every wont and whim. That kind of AI may never arrive. In the meantime, AI remains the bane of voice activated devices like Google Home, HomePod and Amazon Echo. The claim this year was that I would adapt to, well, you. Cause you’re special. Except it didn’t really.
The 5G illusion
Right now, the hype on 5G is almost at the levels of teenage hormonal angst. Yet for most consumers, they’re not sure what 5G really brings and no one’s really laid out a compelling case beyond being able to post to Instagram or Twitter faster than LTE or whatever already exists. But your data charges will increase. So far, tech companies, from what I’ve seen, have really made a compelling case on the value of 5G. Beyond increased costs, cause yeah, well, it’s 5G right?
Laptops can get a wee bit thinner and displays a tad brighter, battery life a half-hour better and speakers sound slightly less tinny. Smartphones are still rectangles and Android is more hackable than Apple…still. I’d wager 99% of those using home smart speakers just want better quality audio for Spotify or a local radio station in the morning.
Conspicuous was the absence of auto manufacturers. Also conspicuous was the amount of home appliance makers with cameras for your smartphone and oven. You know, watch that pizza rise without burning your face I guess?
To a very large degree, we’ve reached a technology plateau and a consumer wallet plateau. Those selling IoT devices are adding features that make little sense to most consumers and require a rather up-market income bracket. Laptops from boring manufacturers like Dell, are finally looking nicer. Smartphones remain rectangular because what other form factor is there?
We’ve reached a plateau and most devices today are about as exciting to most consumers as a new DVD player. The really cool stuff is that which is under the hood, like really good artificial intelligence, blockchain solutions and so on…problem is, they aren’t really easy to showcase.
I don’t hold out much for CES20…do you? I’m not booking it into my calendar.