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January 14, 2013

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CES 2013 Impressions

Great show this year!  Lots of energy: A couple of million square feet of exhibit space — more than 3200 companies showing their goods — and 156,000 attendees.

We’re back to long cab lines, sore feet, and the likely epicenter of the Flu Pandemic of 2013.  I predict it will all be traced back to the 3D glasses everybody shared out of the bucket on the way past the LG show wall.

Sony went All In on 4K televisions, much as they did a couple of years ago with 3D.  Seemingly 3D is now the crazy uncle in the attic, relegated to cinema systems and the dust-covered display at the back corner of the megabooth. 

The 4K experience is stunning, by the way.  Four times as many pixels as your new HD television, phenomenal sound, and at prices the Romneys can afford.  No disc format exists to support 4K; even BluRay falls short.  Cable systems are gasping on their way to 1080p delivery, and certainly will choke on a quadruple-sized picture.  A problem tailor made for IP delivery and Push VOD.  Or Fiber to the Living Room. Or HEVC codecs.




In past years, the Chinese presence has been behind the scenes, either as the contract manufacturers of western brand names, or in rafts of tiny table displays in an “All From China” pavilion.  It’s different now.  While Huawei and ZTE were both present, the positioning was subdued, and focused largely on undifferentiated mobile phone handsets.  But, of the 3200 companies in the exhibitor catalog, 220 start with the word “Shenzen.”  The transition to mainstream is well under way.

OLED televisions are all over the place, with ultra-bright , color rich screens that are amazingly thin.  The champ shown below is a 56” LG model that is 9mm (third of an inch) thick.  Photo shows the same model face on and edgewise.



The ascendancy of ARM processors continues, with Broadcom shifting away from their longstanding use of MIPS architectures.  Intel’s booth had an “end of an era” feel, though they are making big bets to push back the anti-x86 tide.  No mention whatsoever of their secret project to sell an Intel-branded TV service.

Tablets were the hot news 2 years ago, this year they are as common as coffee coasters and about as interesting.  From desperate copy of the iPad to total ubiquity in 24 months.

Other musings:

-Prize for the worst marketing (a tough category) goes the company that named their product the “AdaptaClam”… 
-Ubuntu is a dark horse to bet on as companies hedge their dependence on Android, could be a Google-free replacement …
-Notable by their absence:  Microsoft and Dolby
-Healthcare technology hall was full of gadgets that don’t need FDA approval for checking on health, with a direct-to-consumer-and-around-Obamacare pitch. 
-I want one of the 3D printers, but not one of the driverless cars.

Productive show for Verimatrix.  Lots of good meetings and worn shoe leather.  2013 is off to a great start!