CES 2016 Wrap Up

| January 8, 2016

By Holland Cooke
Radio Consultant

 

cookewriterLAS VEGAS — Like guns, wireless phones now outnumber people in the USA. 70+% are smartphones.

Ask any professional photographer, “What’s the best camera?” He or she will tell you “the one you have with you!” And this past year the worldwide population of photographers surpassed 4 billion, because of smartphones.

  • It’s yet another reason smart radio people are podcasting, and using social media to invite click-to-listen. That everything-thing-we-used-to-call-a-phone is already in the user’s hand.
  • And having that camera in YOUR hand enables you to make the station’s website more about your market and your listeners, who will share interesting shots you post there, and in social media (especially if they’re shots of them).

Cameras – without a phone built-in – are still big at CES, because even the high-quality cameras in smartphones have shutterbugs stepping-up to more-fully-featured cameras (without a phone built-in). Some of the cameras getting lots of ooohs and ahhhs at CES were airborne…

Look! Up in the sky!

“Unmanned Systems” (translation: drones) were big here last year. This year they are – as Donald Trump would say – HUUUGE…three times the CES2015 display space. The Consumer Technology Association forecasts $953 million in drone sales this year, and CES sessions included:

  • “Defining Drones: From Backyard Hobby to Hollywood Flyover;” and
  • “Managing Low-Altitude Airspace for Safety & Privacy.”

As of last month, you need to register your drone, and put a number on it, like airplanes. The FAA reports that 45,000+ people registered drones in the first 2 days it recently began accepting applications. Penalties for not registering run as high as $27,500, and you could do jail time.

That voice…that voice…”

The theme of CNet’s perennial “Next Big Thing” session was “Is typing dead?” So who better to make a surprise celebrity walk-on than the voice of Siri, Susan Bennett. Yes, we were star struck. After all, she gives us turn-by-turn directions, and tells us things we’d rather not wait to hear on-the-8s.

It’s tempting to think of CES as “gadgets,” but what’s really happening here is technology giving people control. And they’re taking it.

  • Have you signed-up for HP Instant Ink? It’s “ordered by your printer, delivered to your door.”
  • One-in-10 Americans are wearing fitness trackers. CTA CEO Gary Shapiro explained that he paces on-stage,“to get my numbers up. We’re having a contest at work.” I smell a radio promotion.
  • The Folding Solar Lantern weighs just a few ounces, fits in the palm of your hand, and it’s a power bank, LED lantern, and flashing emergency light. Flip-open 3 solar panels and charge-up your phone. “It’s the perfect companion for picnics, barbecues, camping and backpacking – charges by day – lights up your night” (marketing copy more benefit-laden than typical station-centric radio promos).

Eye-popping UltraHD TV is now affordable.

FOUR TIMES the resolution of HDTV. Like every wow-factor item, they start out steep; and after early-adopters bought-high, prices fall. Another reason so-called 4K sets started slow was because many Americans had recently replaced TVs during the Digital Transition a while back. And because, until now, there was very little 4K video content. New at CES: 4K Blu-Ray. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings told us his service is “the leading creator of 4K content.”

I’d rather be radio than TV.

Other New Englanders I encountered here were abuzz over news that NBC is leaving Boston’s channel 7. What’ll they do now?

Netflix had over 70 million viewers before this week’s announcement that they were adding 130 new countries, including Russia and India.

NOBODY loves their cable company, and the best “Over The Top TV” (OTT) deal I spotted at CES was Sling, the cancel-anytime $20 a month streaming service that just added more channels to a lineup that already included AMC, CNN. ESPN, TNT and other live basic channels that – until now – kept would-be cord-cutters cabled-up.

Pre-pay three months, just $60, and they give you a new Roku box that you can keep, even if you bail. I’ve got Roku – available for as little as $49 for the dongle – and I can see (a) LOTS of stuff, and (b) why TV networks are horrified.

Another exhibitor lured CES-ers toward its DVR with a sign inviting us to “Meet the device that leaps commercials in a single bound.”

Babe Ruth was also the strike-out king.”

Steve Case told “The Future of Entrepreneurship” attendees “swing for the fences.” Despite his herculean effort launching AOL (“30 YEARS ago!”), he predicts that “there will still be overnight successes like building Facebook in a dorm room.”

YouTube viewing was up 60% in last year, and increasingly it’s on smartphones. Panelist consensus in related sessions I attended: “authenticity and originality” are success factors. 

You might not expect to hear this from a consultant: Try things! When programmers breathlessly await ratings to know which FM’s all-Christmas stunt beat the station across town doing the same thing — and AM stations’ talkers are calling the president the same names they called him yesterday – radio has an innovation deficit.

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Holland Cooke is a media consultant at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet; and he covers conventions for TALKERS magazine and RadioInfo. Read/see/hear his CES2016 coverage at www.HollandCooke.com

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Category: Analysis