At times the leaps forward in technology are evident. Then there are times when incremental steps slowly rise towards something momentous just yonder. Bob O’Donnell is a top Silicon Valley analyst, USA Today columnist, and contributor to leading media outlets. He returns to our show to give his take on this year’s CES. As Bob O’Donnell surveys CES 2019, he sees tech on the cusp of innovation.
In a word, this year’s CES was packed. From gadgets to automobiles to robotics and more, consumer electronics has morphed. Although the range has grown, this year’s biggest strides came in CES old school mainstays. Announcements from PC and TV makers rose above the buzz of the crowd. These were largely incremental, but nonetheless notable.
Previews in past years gave way to the real deal. LG’s rollable TV hits the market this year. Apple gained attention following a waning CES presence in recent years. Partnering with the big TV players, Apple makes HomeKit, iTunes, and AirPlay 2 available on Samsung, LG, Vizio, and Sony TVs.
Another big trend as Bob O’Donnell surveys CES 2019 is gaming. In the gaming realm, Nvidia, Intel, and AMD took center stage with their respective innovations. On the cusp of innovation, glimpses of game streaming showed promise. This cloud-based gaming will allow flexibility and opportunity. It’s an advantage for the hard-core gamer and novice alike. Gamers will be able to pick up or continue gaming on a range of devices.
See the Difference?
The 8K push was evident at CES. Vendors are offering 8K in varying forms. Is there a noticeable difference between 4K and 8K? The jury’s out with consumers split 50/50. Some companies have made their 8K products discrete. Sony’s 8K TVs are much larger than the 4K. But with zero content available at the moment, Bob wonders if 8K deserves the notice? It’s on the cusp of innovation. In my view, change is right around the corner. Japan is readying for the 2020 Olympics, which will be broadcast in 8K. CableLabs member J:COM is on track for the Olympics 8K roll out. The big question remains: will that 8K TV fit in the living room?
The forecasts of two years ago overshot autonomous vehicle progress. The pullback comes as issues have arisen. The technology is not ready. Public perception is not ready. Real issues of safety are coupled with consumer fear and lack of trust. Even terms can be a problem. Bob views the term ‘autopilot’ in cars misleading. For now, the focus has shifted to assisted driving versus autonomous. Even in that area, auto assist functions become disengaged 60 – 80 percent of the time. There’s some distance to go before autonomous becomes viable. Makers need time to get it right.
Not Competing, Complementing
This year 5G is everywhere. Overhype is an issue. Bob is wary of some claims. There is confusion over what 5G really is. As Bob points out, looking back at how 4G enabled Uber and other services, people now are more aware. Hence, the hype.
With the introduction of the cable industry 10G, some clarity is needed. The G in 10G actually means gigabit. It is not in competition with the 5G (fifth generation) cellular network tech. 10G will actually complement 5G in the future. For now, 10G program is live and rolling out. In 80% of U.S. homes, 1 gigabit broadband internet will be available to 80% of U.S. homes. It’s a platform to build innovations on.
The hints at what’s down the road may be exciting, but at the same time misleading. There’s risk when companies promise more from products than products deliver or will deliver in the near future. Overselling risks losing consumers’ trust and taxing patience. Exaggerating taints the industry and consumer perception. Much of what we’ve seen at CES 2019 is incremental. But it’s better to make good on solid claims than take grand leaps and fall flat.
Thanks to Bob O’Donnell for sharing his insights.
To hear the interview with renowned technology market research veteran Bob O’Donnell at #CES2019, listen to this week's show: On the Cusp of Innovation: Bob O’Donnell Surveys CES 2019 S14 Ep47.