But there’s lots more happening at CES than gadgets. Among what Consumer Electronics Association CEO Gary Shapiro calls “all aspects of the tech ecosystem:”
* CEA unveiled an initiative to help returning service men and women find tech jobs. Hit USTechVets.org
* Also thank this bunch for helping to change the rules of flying, so you can now use your iPad or smartphone takeoff-to-landing. BUT Shapiro urges that airlines use “common sense” about allowing phone calls up there. Imagine sitting between two loud-talkers?
* More than 30 companies are demonstrating 3D printing here.
* After that digital television transition a few years back – and plunging HDTV prices – nudged you to buy new TVs, newer UltraHD screens getting ooohs and ahhhs here display FOUR TIMES the resolution, and the picture is eye-popping. But wait! Manufacturers are rushing to offer – in time for the 2020 Olympics — newer-yet TVs with EIGHT TIMES the resolution of HD.
* This is also the world’s largest “app-athon.” Many of 850 speakers here are all-about the content new-tech devices deliver…what radio calls “programming.” For instance?
CEO Marissa Mayer brought her new global anchor Katie Couric and witty ex-New York Times techster David Pogue on-stage to demo new-look Yahoo content offerings, “one nicely-organized experience.”
One skeptic attending dismissed it all as a new coat of paint on the 1990s web experience. But you be the judge. Peruse slick “digital magazine” Yahoo.com/tech, which Pogue launched live at the event. Note: no lingo. It’s tech for non-techies. And try Yahoo! News Digest, available free at app stores now. Witness content crafted for consumption at-the-speed-of-life, something radio – think “car radio” — should obsess on. They’re wary of what Mayer displayed in text message fashion: tl;dr (meaning “too long; didn’t read”).
And Katie observed a good news/bad news new-tech reality: “Anyone with a cell phone and Twitter handle can become a reporter;” and that’s something that smart TV and radio stations exploit. But “linking has too-often replaced reporting,” which broadcast cutbacks have whacked.
The biggest swarm of familiar radio faces at CES, so far, was, not surprisingly, at a session on internet radio.
* How’s this for riding-the-horse-in-the-direction-he’s-facing? Jack Isquith used to be a record guy. Now he’s Senior VP of Strategy Development and Content Programming for Slacker. “Curation IS content,” he reckons. People music radio wants as listeners can get the songs radio plays anywhere. They have a couple hundred on their phones. How radio presents music – local personalities, who bond with listeners — is what will keep ’em coming back to FM.
* Another deft career move: Ex-ABC Radio executive John Rosso is now Triton Digital’s President of Market Development, and was also on the panel: “Anybody who owns the data relationship with the consumer is SURE in the driver’s seat.” Memo to local radio talent: You are squirreling-away listener Email addresses, right?
“Challenges on the pathway to ‘Wow’”
Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai got laughs when he showed a parade of his company’s failed products. “Failure is a reason to keep trying,” he smiled, showing us a 1975 Betamax ad with a headline that now seems prescient: “Watch whatever whenever.”
Hirai recalled a personal “Wow,” the first time he heard music on CD, a Billy Joel album. And this boss is sending his company clear messages about offering customers similar experiences:
* It was hard not to think of what we wish more of for radio lately when he kept referencing “Wow:” “I urge all Sony employees to put ‘Wow’ at-the-center-of all their efforts.”
* Another Hirai mandate, for the Sony Entertainment Network: “Less-complicated” access to what-you-want, where/when/on any device.
The Internet of Things
Always-sassy-sexy-quirky-funny Sarah Silverman joined Cisco CEO John Chambers on-stage after a video in which she acted-out how devices can talk to each other and “everything is connected to what we like and don’t like,” and how technology can “make suggestions” which facilitate everyday life.
Then, in specific terms, Chambers described how connectivity and the digital plumbing his company builds could – and already do – profoundly solve common problems we needn’t tolerate.
* Data trips-off Chambers’ tongue: $13 billion a year is spent on street lights in Europe. Sensors could reduce that energy cost 70-80%. “Connected trash cans” (sensor-driven waste management) could save billions in the USA. Trash cans!
* 50% of world population now lives in cities…60% soon. 30% of city traffic is looking-for-a-parking-space. Barcelona, Spain is saving – and making – big bucks with high-tech “smart parking.” Barcelona’s mayor joined Chambers on-stage to explain. He told us that mayors-from-around-the-world visit, to learn how this and other high-tech initiatives make Barcelona more efficient and livable, and CREATE JOBS.
What happens in Vegas…
…matters to radio, which will either exploit or suffer what’s being discussed and unveiled here. Bookmark HollandCooke.com, which I’m updating throughout the day. You can see photos from CES and click-to-hear reports I’m sending to my client stations. And in-addition to my real-time Tweets @HollandCooke, you can read what others here are posting at #CES and #CES2014
Holland Cooke is a media consultant working at the intersection of Talk Radio and the Internet; and he covers industry conferences for TALKERS and RadioInfo. Look for his coverage of 2014 International CES here this week, and follow his real-time Tweets from the Las Vegas Convention Center @HollandCooke