A Look Ahead at Some Studs (and Duds) at CES 2018
With Christmas in the rearview mirror, it's time to take a deep breath and let the whirlwind of CES consume the industry. While maybe not as directly impactful as say a CEDIA convention, the Consumer Electronics Show can feel like a crystal ball for the CE industry. But, like all future predictions, maybe it's best we take this preview as more of rough draft for what trends we are likely to see out of the Las Vegas tradeshow.
TVs Approaching Diminishing Returns
The TV space race to 8K is, if nothing else, an interesting narrative. Mostly because 4K is becoming a little more commonplace, but the content is seriously lacking.
So when LG says they are ready to showcase an 88-inch 8K OLED TV, it might leave a bad taste in our mouth. Last year's CES gave us wallpaper TV, a slew of curved panels, and one of our favorites in Samsung's The Frame.
This year we can look at another TV chock-full of 8K stock footage.
So maybe an 8K OLED is just the proper next move, but it would be nice to see content catch-up and make it an easier sell for dealers.
Not to be forgotten, 4K will make its usual appearance, although 4K HDR is already hitting retail at just a couple hundred bucks, technology like local dimming will start generating some LCD sex appeal. Then again LG and Sony, both big fans of the OLED craze, have been rising in dollar share, while Samsung and Vizion, who do not, are falling.
Digital Assistants Still On Top
Last year, we talked about connected home and digital assistants ad nauseam. It has seemingly found itself sneaking into every conversation this year as well, so we can expect it to be a big conversation at CES again this year.
Amazon, Google, and Apple have all put out respective assistants this year that have come in many shapes and sizes, and we expect to see a lot of DIY players like August, Canary, Ring, and Kwikset have a strong showing as well. One of those was HomeKit, Apple's IoT play that isn't exactly DIY, but it isn't exactly a professional option either. With the addition of the smart speaker HomePod, it's a great way to keep Apple in the conversation, but maybe not enough to keep them relevant.
One of the more important trends might be the addition of z-wave, something Amazon's newest version of the Echo came equipped with. It's an important move because the general consumer education on technologies past Bluetooth seems to be mostly lacking.
We expect to see the same showing of speakers, refrigerators, thermostats, and TVs all packed with smart assistants. It's really anybody's race, and even though we won't see any major developments, just clever reiterations, but maybe Samsung's Bixby or Microsoft's Cortana will finally become relevant.
Home Security DIY Not Quite a Threat
If TVs are feeling like a space race and digital assistants are feeling like companies are simply showing up late to the party, home security is feeling like a dog pile. Everyone from DIY to billion dollar companies are putting out some version of a home-sensor-doorbell-camera combination.
All of them are putting their hat into the arena to prove that their interpretation of a window sensor and 720p camera is the best. However, what we are starting to see is an overall saturation that will be a rush to the bottom in terms of pricing, quality, and ultimately, user experience.
CES will solidify that statement.
Yes, companies like Ring and August will continue to service the CI industry in a way that many companies can't, but contenders like Blink, who has an unproven track record, are able to hit the market at a very low price point with some decent functionality.
We will let the dust settle on the DIY scene, but maybe we shouldn't be too worried that a piecemeal approach will ever hold a candle to the solutions offered by dealers today.