LAS VEGAS--CES 2009 begins Thursday, January 8 and there are already a few trends that have appeared from this reporter's day of pre-CES press conference attendance: eco-friendly products and manufacturing, acknowledgement by most of the companies introducing new CE products that our current economic state will probably cause many consumers to stay close to home, be very careful about what they spend, and when they do spend money it will most likely be in family and home entertainment. Post 9/11, the consumer tendency to stay close to--and invest in the home and family--was termed nesting. It remains to be seen as we move into the beginning of 2009 whether or not consumers will spend on such "nesting" concerns or if the fear of spending money that has gripped the country will continue for months to come.
However, most of the large CE companies have plenty of new products that they're introducing here in Las Vegas this week. These include dozens of digital cameras, camcorders, and digital frames; as well as many more HDTVs, Blu-Ray players, media players, storage devices, cellphones, and much more. And the products being launched this week come in at a range of price points--for everyone from the consumer who's being careful about their spending to those who can afford the top of the line models.
Anyone who studies economics will tell you that it is the smart business that continues advertising and marketing in a trying economy--keeping your company's name visible with consumers is vital.
At LG's press conference, Michael Ahn, president and CEO of LG North America, explained that LG has not reduced its spending on marketing, advertising or R&D.
Next Big CE "Thing"
LG president and CTO, Dr. Woo Paik, the father of HDTV, suggested that "3D [will be] the next big wave coming to CE."
At Panasonic's press conference, that company explained the move towards 3D as immersive viewing. "You've stepped up to HD, now step into 3D," is their slogan. Panasonic also proposed the industry come together by agreeing on a 3D Full HD standard.
The development of 3D technologies was also discussed by Sony, Panasonic, Samsung, and Toshiba during their press conferences.
One of the more unique products shown by Dr. Paik at the LG press conference was a watch that incorporates a cellphone. The working model that was on view is said to be the world's smallest 3G cellphone with Bluetooth and speakerphone capabilities that also plays MP3s--and it tells time. The company expects the product to be in production later this year and will be available in the U.S. and other regions.
LG also showed a solar powered Bluetooth speakerphone car kit, which will let consumers power their cellphones in a "green" way. Solar powered battery chargers were also being shown by Energizer and other companies.
At the Toshiba press conference, Akio Ozaka, president and CEO of Toshiba America Consumer Products explained that Toshiba "focuses on what's important to consumers." What is important to consumers? The next generation of connectivity in the home, whereby consumers can view digital content in their home from a variety of devices the content may be stored on.
Another of the trends that is emerging, is the incorporation of Widgets, who's web content is viewable on today's television sets. Television as we know it is changing. For those old enough to remember the short-lived television show Max Headroom, news and other information streaming across TV screens in the not so distant future, in addition to communication via those sets was a creation of the imaginations of the writers of the Max Headroom show. Well, the technology is now here. Widgets will let consumers select the internet content they're interested in and view it on their TV.
Many of the companies who were showcasing Widgets for TV are utilizing the Yahoo Widget Engine.
Sony announced ECO Bravia TVs. Using the ECO Switch, zero watts of electrical current are consumed by the TV when in standby mode. Sony is also displaying prototype OLED TVs at their booth this week.
What's New in Digital Imaging
At the Casio press conference, John Homlish, executive VP of Sales and Marketing for Casio America explained, "High speed is the next generation in the digital camera marketplace." Last year Casio introduced the EX-F1, (designed with the professional photographer in mind), which at the time offered the fastest capture rate of any digital camera. The EX-F1 and its successor, the EX-FH20 (designed for the skilled amateur) are of the ZLR or ultra-zoom type of bulkier form factor.