Ok, CES (Consumer Electronics Show) 2009 was off a little in the number of exhibitors and attendees.


It was a crappy second half of ’08 folks.

No one has been drinking happy juice about the prospects for the next six months!

Best guess there were only about 90,000 people at the Vegas show (after 5-10 shows a year for 10++ years…you get a feel for these sorts of things).

But…you could get a flight at the last minute…

Get a hotel room at the last minute…

Get a cab…

Not be cramped on the tram…

Get a dinner reservation…

Talk to the right people…

Sounds good to us!

Why We’re There

The buzz focused on 3D content, entertainment everywhere and mininotebooks.

Everything else supported the buzz.

Lots of groups want 3D here sooner rather than later, for starkly different reasons.

Jeff Katzenberg, chief executive of DreamWorks, has been all over the globe pushing the idea of movies in 3D. He is pretty certain that a really trippy entertainment experience is the way he can drag you back into theaters.

To whet your appetite, he’s shipping out 150 M of his 3D glasses to folks so they can watch his 90 sec Super Bowl commercial (sorry no costume malfunctions!).

In the right theaters the movies are way better than the bad 3D horror flicks we watched bleary eyed as a kid in the 70s.

Figure 1 – Good Ol 3D – Back when we were growing up in the ‘70s super bad horror flicks in 3D were a great way to “relax.” But today’s 3D is way better…even the glasses are cooler. From what we saw at CES they’ll just keep improving

Problem is retrofitting the theaters won’t be cheap so we’ll probably see a lot of great 3D “solutions” at NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) in April (yes back to Vegas).

A few of the upgraded old flavor 3D are already available and more are on their way.

It’ll be 18-24 months before we’ll see all digital 3D movies. Like HD, each will be better than the last.

A lot of groups want to see good 3D come to your home.

Screening Ideas

Already 7-10 acronym organizations and consortiums want to “contribute” to the next standard for home and mobile device applications.

Big and small players demonstrated their ultra best solution for 3D at CES including Sony, Panasonic, Samsung, Toshiba, Dolby, Nvidia, 3M, networks and production companies.

The AVN folks can’t wait to help advance the technology.

Some of the 3D efforts will certainly help drive more screen sales.

HD screens – bigger, thinner, brighter, better – dominated the show floor and they do look great.

Figure 2 – Bigger n Better – For the past few CES events you could always count on manufacturers one-upping each other to have the biggest, baddest thin TV screen. This year the honors went to Sharp with their 105-in beauty. Add in internet connectivity and a BD player and you’re ready for popcorn

If you get a new one now plan on upgrading again in three-four years or get a set that is 3D ready (yeah like the big box store clerk knows about that!).

You’ll want it when you’re watching 3D BD movies, fairly decent 3D TV shows or playing one of your video games on your set.

Nvidia, EA, Sony (PS3), Microsoft (Xbox) and sure probably Nintendo see fantastic potential in putting the action right in your lap.

Yes we did say BD discs because they will be around. BD is really only in its second year of availability and sales are respectable…didn’t knock down the doors like the industry would like but respectable.

Prices have come down so players are under $200. By mid-year they’ll be under $100. No where near upscaling DVD players for $40 but sheess.

Disc movies and writable media still beat the pipe alternatives for quality and cost.

In fact a recent SmithGeiger report showed that if the price is the same 60 percent of the respondents preferred BD movies, 12 percent settled for downloads. If downloads were $5 less 55 percent still preferred the disc movie while 22 percent would opt for the download.

According to one Dolby executive maybe two million 3D capable sets have been sold WW so that means set manufacturers have only scratched the surface of sales.

Taking a page from Gary Shapiro’s (CEA president/CEO) playbook, Panasonic has been busy innovating.

They showed off their version of real 3D at the show.

Figure 3 – 3D Class – Panasonic wasn’t satisfied with kinda 3D movies at this CES. They went the whole way with a custom beginning to end 3D HD solution. Nothing you’ll be able to buy/afford for a few years but it does show the future

The movie was spectacular!

Pana’s Prototype

But it was a prototype so don’t run to the store just yet.

The solution took you from a 3D BD movie played on a 3D BD player, sent over HDMI (high definition multimedia interface) to a 3D TV set. The custom set-up delivers images to both the left and right eye without any loss of resolution.

Figure 4 – Alpha to Omega 3D — 3D HD content on a blu disc played on a next generation BD player (present systems will probably also work) and magically sent to a 3D HD plasma screen. Panasonic showed everyone they came to play!!! Source – Panasonic

Panasonic did give great show!

They’re so hot for 3D HD they announced the opening of a special movie authoring center in Hollywood.

That’s planning…that’s optimism!

Ok not really that optimistic. There are already 14 3Dish movies being released this year, each better than the next.

Videogame developers and sporting events will be running tests this year to prime the pump!

By next CES we’ll know who is really delivering solutions and the experience.

LG and other exhibitors believe 3D will extend outside of the home.

It’s part of our three-screen mantra. You know…TV set, smartphone, computer screen.

Figure 5 – 3rd Screen – While video playback has been available on smartphones like the iPhone and Nokia unit above, plans are already underway to begin sending TV signals to the units in select US markets. TV to the phone has been enjoyed for some time in the Pacific Basin and Europe

Why not?

It is the next step for our kids.

Their data bills are bigger than their actual phone bills.

Pay-for-play people and service providers see big bucks with online, on-the-go TV. Throw in 3D and you use even more bandwidth!

This hasn’t escaped the watchful eyes of network backbone supplier Cisco. They see video (all types) as their next big frontier. They already have their war chest open to buy strategic video acquisitions.

By CES 2010 they may have enough data, voice, visual parts pulled together to actually keep their booth on the show floor.

That will make Shapiro happy.

Cisco’s Chambers has a good point.

3rd Screen

Communications and entertainment have become just data.

Figure 6 – Come Together — For mobile phone service providers content is content. The digital bits can be phone calls, IMs, text messages, photos, music, movies or TV shows. Now if they can be sensible with the pipeline charges we’ll be ready to go. Source – IDC
While a lot of folks have learned to move smoothly across the three screens we just haven’t been that bright.

We like a cellphone to call folks.

We can’t text or IM so that anyone can read what we say (they usually call up and say what???)

We like our cameras for pictures/video.

We like the idea of the cheapie netbooks even though we’ve heard the return rate is “high.”

We just aren’t keen about Google and other search engine/access points tracking every click we make and using that information to their advantage.

It’s bogus dude!!!!

This year some computer folks got the message that there was a need for a netbook size system but one that was a real computer.

Real, Little Computer

We like HP and think their mininotebook is superb (price isn’t that bad!). The higdef screen is clean, sharp. Good tactile feel on the keyboard. Compact size/weight. Decent storage capacity. Ok battery life.

While the skin appeals to our wife it just isn’t something we want to carry into the boardroom, down the street or whip out on the plane or train.

Figure 7 – Her Clutch – The ultracompact HP notebook looks more like our wife’s clutch purse than a serious/real computer. We like everything about it but…the looks. Don’t think real men will be brave enough to carry the designer system even if they do have a purse!

So we’ll opt for the Vaio P system.

There were a lot of incremental nice ideas to fill in the spaces at the PC/CE event but given the cautious to conservative mood that was ok!

Most agree that consumer technology sales will be off about 20 percent this year.

The first six months will be the toughest.

After that? Sssslllloooowwww recovery…long way from the “good old days” but recovery.

The Bright Spots

Since CEA’s Shapiro is asking our new President to hold-off on the DTV switch-over it probably means enough folks haven’t bought enough of the big, flat screens.

Prices will be even more aggressive to move the inventory. New screens will be bundled with blu players for disc movies and internet connection for fairly decent ITV and VoD.

Cutting profits to the bone, notebooks and ultrasmall notebooks will still outshine netbook sales which will be “OK.” Netbooks are fine if you use them as casual, impulse, on-the-go units. Not the thing you want to bang on all day long!

Even when you feel miserable you seem to want to capture special moments, memories so digital cameras with still/video capabilities, higher resolution, more automation, lower prices will remain pretty steady.

Home servers and media storage hubs – audio, video, photo, stuff – will see good increases this coming year because they are finally getting kinda easy to install and use.

Phone sales will remain flat to down except for sales growth in a few of the emerging countries but those certainly won’t be iPhone knock-offs.

Storage – solid state, hard drive, optical – volumes will continue to increase because folks are shoving more content at us, we’re making more content, we’re grabbing/stuffing more stuff.

CES 2010 already looks a little brighter doesn’t it?

Until then we’ve still got the really small shows – you know 30-50K attendees at PMA, NAB, CTIA.