CES 2011: What Matters to Marketers

What is the single most interesting thing or trend you’ve seen coming out of CES and why? And what does it mean for marketers? We posed those questions to ClickZ Expert contributors attending CES 2011, the consumer technology tradeshow in Las Vegas.

Here are their assessments, shared with ClickZ via e-mail.


Mass Relevance CEO Sam Decker: There is a lot of talk among hardware folks about tablets and 3D. But I think the most important trend is that “convergence” (talked about so much years ago) is finally happening. It means that Internet connectivity is getting into every device. Therefore digital content and interactivity is getting integrated into TV viewing experiences, signage, car stereos, refrigerators, you name it. This is an opportunity and a challenge for the non-hardware folks (software, content, advertising) to manage across multiple platforms and displays. And that trend will have larger implications to marketers than 3D!

Community Chat, Video, and E-mail

Zinio CMO Jeanniey Mullen: At a pre-show keynote at CES, Steve Ballmer showed an enhancement to the Xbox 360 Kinect. It is a program where a person like you or I can build our own avatar and the PC screen will connect and mimic our real-live facial expressions and body movements. But Kinect takes it to a new level; it will take the avatars and allow them to perform a community chat. Imagine sitting alone in your home office and turning on your avatar along with five other colleagues (all alone at their homes, too). On the screen are all six of you in one room having a virtual conversation with facial expressions, hand gestures and all. Sounds crazy right? (It makes Jane Jetson‘s fake face for video calls seem so old). It’s real, and it will be live in 2011. And, it will compel those of us in e-mail marketing to now consider video integration in our strategies.

Connected Devices

W3i VP Rob Weber: The “Internet of Things” has been talked about for years in the consumer electronics industry. The industry is now starting to deliver on that big time. Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg, during his keynote, talked about how connected devices will be everywhere, from door locks to housewares. Others are calling the 2011 CES “Tablet-Palooza” due to the dozens and dozens of new tablets that are being introduced, the majority of which are powered by the Google Android operating system. Even without predicting the winners in the tablet market share wars, one thing is very clear: The world will become very saturated with tablets. There is no clear winner in the connected TV category yet, but clearly new TVs will become increasingly interactive and include apps. With connected devices truly everywhere, marketers will have all kinds of new opportunities to reach consumers in new and different ways.

Interactive TV

Razorfish Emerging Media Director Jeremy Lockhorn: CES 2011 presented a plethora of trends that marketers should be paying attention to. The continued explosion of mobile computing devices – especially tablets – is the obvious one. In the short term, it means continued fragmentation of experiences from a development perspective (different screen sizes, software versions, operating systems, etc). But I think what’s more interesting, if still nascent, is the progress on connected TVs. Most OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) were giving demos of their latest – which are all staring to look really good and bring some compelling functionality. And, Yahoo announced some very, very cool new functionality for its TV Widget platform. Interactive TV has been a year away for 30 years, but we’re starting to see some of the technology really get there – and baking it right into the TV means we don’t have to wait for the operators to get on board.

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