The Consumer Electronics Show, where tech giants flex their muscles with their latest innovations, is hosted each January in Las Vegas. Traditionally hardware has been on show, but I think services will soon take over.
Over the years there have been a number of ‘hero’ products unveiled at CES, such as camcorders in 1981, the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1985, DVD players in 1996 and HD TVs in 1998.
But I feel these physical products will soon take more of a backseat, with services and peripheral accessories beginning to dominate over the next few years.
We’re a long way off a CES without new TVs on show, but I think it’s edging that way. So, instead of writing about new products on display at CES, I expect I’ll soon need to begin focussing more on the new features being added to existing products.
A signal for significant software updates
The quality and performance of the hardware will always be key, but can we really be expected to replace our tellies every six months to keep apace with a seemingly relentless onslaught?
I’d like to see a shift towards more significant software updates to our TVs, much like the ones we’re getting used to with smartphone operating system updates, and even the apps we download on a daily basis.
Smart TVs are slowing making their way into our living rooms, even if they’re not quite up to the standard where their ‘smart’ technology is anything more than just a nice add on.
Hopefully we’ll see a better attempt at smart tellies at this year’s CES. LG is going to unveil its Google (Android) TV, which could be a step closer to a product that we can customise and upgrade without needing to replace it a year later when it becomes obsolete. Disappointingly, LG’s Google telly isn’t destined for a UK launch until 2013.
Give me an app
Apple, also expected to enter the TV market soon, is another example of where a physical product doesn’t need to take centre stage. Apple won’t be at CES again this year, but its influence will be prevalent via an iLounge – an area dedicated to iPhone and iPad apps.
TV manufacturers, like all businesses, need to make money. But rather than trying to push new hardware (3D TVs anyone?) maybe there’s money to be made in the services sold through their products. With this approach, perhaps you’d feel more confident that the technology you buy would be more future-proof?