CES 2018 in Las Vegas was the usual show of new technology devices (this year heavy on the IoT, voice assistants, AI, and automotive spaces) and, of course, useless gadgets that we’ll never hear from again ($16k shirt-folding robot?). While most of the new consumer hardware that actually launches in 2018 – and a fair proportion of the things shown at CES never do – will struggle to make margin for the manufacturers concerned, there are new revenue opportunities for media firms.
Key announcements and trends included the following:
Voice assistants in everything. The ongoing battle between Google and Amazon seems (at CES at least) to have left Siri, Bixby, and Cortana in the dust. Google invested a huge amount in advertising and stand space at the show for the first time, but Alexa seemed to be built into far more of the newly announced devices. For media firms, Google and Amazon controlling everything from music playback to e-commerce and TVOD is a double-edged sword; it opens up potential new users to your content service, but also sets you against two global firms keen to pitch their own media offerings.
VR and immersive AR’s steady advance. The surprise announcement of the HTC Vive Pro brings the next generation of high-end VR in sight; the headset’s improved comfort for the wearer, its better resolution, and the option to go untethered will all help cement HTC’s position as the leading PC-connected headset vendor. Additionally, several AR display firms, like Lumus and WaveOptics, showed their wares. While we’re still one to two years from viable consumer immersive AR headsets, the technology is finally catching up with the vision. As we’ve previously written about at length, VR is still too nascent to drive significant digital media revenues, but it continues to be a good field to stay informed about and to experiment in.
Unexpected resurgence in PC gaming. Whether because gamers are now seen as the last bastion of profitability in the moribund PC space, or because VR and eSports have revitalized the market, CES provided a rich seam of PC gaming announcements. AMD announced new chips, Nvidia announced BFGD, Mad Catz unexpectedly reemerged, and many 4K HDR systems were demoed with recent AAA games – good news for media firms in gaming and related spaces like VR.
4K HDR TVs everywhere. As usual, CES was full to brimming with brands announcing and showing off their new TVs (many now with voice assistants, obviously). While LG and Sony continue to amaze with bigger, brighter, and more-expensive 4K and 8K screens, media firms should be more interested in the new sets from TCL and Hisense who are bring great 4K HDR sets within reach of more price-conscious consumers. This is what will grow the install base (and hence the addressable market for content), not $25k Sony projectors.
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