What wasn't at CES matters most
Across the 2.7 million square feet of exhibit space, mobile technologies absent from this year's show were far more noteworthy than those present, writes Possible Mobile's Jeff Hasen.
The following is a guest post from Jeff Hasen, strategist at Possible Mobile.
There were 2.7 million net square feet of exhibit space at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. For mobile marketers, what wasn't there was far more noteworthy than what was.
5G was nowhere, despite claims made all around the expo. Samsung booth signage actually said "5G is the answer" and "Samsung End-to-End 5G Solutions are Ready" yet the first claim is to be determined (and just what is the question?), and the second claim was debunked by a "prototype 5G smartphone" running without a 5G connection.
"We are at the entrance, we are at the door, we are about to step into 5G," Liya Sharif, Qualcomm's head of global brand, content and creative services, said at Wunderman Thompson's Future Ready breakfast. "5G will be as transformational as the internet was."
Sharif said that 5G will make connectivity speeds five times faster and limit latency, and that "connectivity will be like electricity."
At what pace 5G will push satisfied smartphone owners to upgrade their devices remains to be seen. Dial-up to broadband was an obvious improvement and became a must-have when price and availability worked for consumers. There are likely lessons there as we plan for 5G's broader rollout.
Sharif said that marketers will be in the game beginning in three to six months when, according to the executive, we will see the first smartphones truly running on 5G at speeds five times faster than what is being used today.
"The use cases are endless," she said. "5G will open new audiences for us. Movies will be downloaded in one minute. There will be more complexity in the marketing stack and it will require a new level of creativity. Branding will elevate. It will happen organically. We'll need to deliver higher value messaging versus rational messaging."
Here are six other observations from CES:
- Seasoned CES attendees knew better than to expect significant mobile hardware innovation to be introduced in Nevada. Those in search of flexible devices had to settle for the Royole FlexPai, which debuted in Beijing in October. Frankly, I'm still in search of the problem that flexible smartphones will solve.
- Brands will soon have a way beyond radio, mobile ads and marketing messages to reach consumers in cars. Honda announced its beta Dream Drive program that introduces a dashboard that rewards opted-in drivers and passengers for using the car's connected capabilities. Drivers can earn points for using the dashboard to navigate to their next destination, pay for gas, order food or make other purchases. Passengers can also get points for listening to the radio or playing games through a Honda app. Whether significant numbers of people will consent to have their data shared with brands is yet to be determined. Honda promises brands "last mile" data showing how their marketing led to sales.
- Reality had a larger presence. A marketer can dismiss the sight of driving in a moving vehicle wearing a headset — that looked dangerous and the least viable product shown at the show. There were some interesting displays of augmented reality, but also unbelievable claims that the software is so intuitive, anyone can create an experience.
- One is left to think that beyond smart home hardware, consumers will need to choose an ecosystem of products and services. Branding has a role here alongside product marketing.
- Voice assistants were everywhere, even in places you might not want them to be — think smart toilets. For marketers, this category is not one for the future. Figure out your brand strategy around voice now given the adoption and increased daily user activity.
- Despite the fact that we saw even larger TVs with clearer displays, other screens were discussed in a talk by Turner President David Levy. "Television is content," Levy said. "It's not that screen in your living room anymore." Levy told marketers to concentrate on what he called the "three A's of advertising:" audience (know the demographic), addressability (personalize) and attribution (measure results).