Reactions From CES 2012: The TV Is The Next Frontier

January 21, 2012
Dan Katcher

The stories at CES this week were many, but the biggest one was our friend, the TV.

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The magnitude of the CES show is stunning: 150k attendees striding through the bright lights of Vegas. CES is a still a showcase event for big consumer brands, so it’s fun to see the displays and the shows put on by the likes of Samsung and Intel and LG and Nokia and Sharp. It’s also a lesson in business, watching companies both big and small and how they interact with their customers. One common thread, people on booth duty are working hard and selling hard all day long.
There were definitely a variety of stories at the show. Connected cars got big press (see here and here), but connected cars still seem more hype then use. Once you get past a phone, tunes and a GPS, how much more connected do you really want to be? At least as a driver. As always there were plenty of connected fridges and washing machines, but again – beyond smart energy management, what I want from my dryer is dry clothes. Plenty of tablet makers were there as well, and Android was featured prominently in devices and in tablets.
Not to mention the goofier side of CES – Biebs and the TOSY dancing robot (the Bie-bot?), Android powered ski googles, Kinect powered skateboard. Here’s a nice summary of the weird.
All that aside, the main story this year was the TV – there are so many things are happening on the TV right now.
First of all, the advancements in core TV technology are continuing unabated. The improvements in display technology are phenomenal. There were some stunning TVs, like the Samsung Super OLED TV. The display was gorgeous, and was so thin (0.3 in) that people were taking pictures of the side perspective.
Secondly, there was a lot of 3D.

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3D theaters, 3D monitors, 3D games, 3D glasses. The amount of 3D content in the world is slowly growing. ESPN was doing a live broadcast of 3D boxing from the CES show floor. One thing that was really interesting were 3D games – 3D Fruit Ninja with gesture recognition takes on a whole new meaning. You truly can become a Ninja!
And there was TV connectivity. Google TV was being demo’d by many of the majors (Samsung, LG, Sony, Vizio, …), and had a big presence with their partnership with chip maker Marvell – read about that here. The Android market was prominently featured in the demos. Plus, Google TV’s content search interface is sweet – they make it easy to find streaming content from Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, etc. and call it up in a few clicks (or even gestures).
Are TV apps the new frontier? Samsung thinks so – with both Google TV and their own aggressive development program and Javascript SDK for their bada OS. Google thinks so, with their partnership with Marvell and many big TV vendors, as well as their push with YouTube to change the nature of content production, not to mention ownership of Motorola (think set top boxes). Does Apple think so? Rumors are strongly yes:. late Jan could be the real Apple TV announcement.
So let’s face it: TV apps are the new frontier.

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Re-imagine your living room when gesture and voice recognition are common place. There is most definitely going to be a new wave of innovation that will marry great new content, lots of it in 3D, using gestures and speech for control. Apps that are going to ride that wave need to figure out how to fill up not just the screen, but the entire living room.
So here’s to 2012. It’s going to be an interesting year.

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