Sunday 15 January 2012

CES - driven by the absentee

So CES 2012 has been and gone and each year it seems it is less important for gadget watchers and those who want to bet on innovation success in the technology marketplace. It is increasingly a place that sales folk stand in front of new stuff only to acknowledge later that it is just a technology demonstrator. An example of this last week was Sony's "Simple Wireless Connection (SWC)" which at first seemed to be a market response to Apple's Airplay (found on its shipping iOS devices) but was later admitted to be simply a technology demonstrator.

But it wasn't the top companies at CES that were driving the tech product agenda for this year; it was indeed the Cupertino company that wasn't there. The publicity was all about 'connected televisions' not driven by the what people are asking for or buying and using but by what the rumours say the next market Apple is targeting... TV. All the data says that people who have already bought connected TVs do not in fact connect them to the net and the few that do rarely use it to display web content. Of course that is not the innovation that Apple will bring to television viewing. The companies driven by focus groups are missing the point once again. They need to innovate instead on how the users of a TV can get a proper a la carte choice of channels they want without all the rubbish that they don't and how to interact with the device in the lounge. You only have to compare the standard Apple remote with any other remote control for traditional TV sets. And of course, at CES there were plenty of companies who had TV remote control apps on mini-tablets to show off. CES was their chance to lead on innovation ... I fear that by 2013 they will be chasing from behind once again.