CES 2014: What Got Mindshare Excited

It’s a wrap on CES 2014, the Consumer Electronics Show that everyone loves to hate, and no one wants to miss. Mindshare came up with a formula to make sure its team and clients got the most value from what can be an overwhelming event. For the third year, Mindshare produced what is essentially its own event inside CES, creating an experience that includes tours of the show floor guided by partners including Hulu, Pandora and Engadget; private presentations on technology; and dinners with executives including Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer.

“We’ve had clients who came and didn’t now if they were getting much out of it, so we started curating it. The best part of CES is that so many people in the industry are there. The industry comes to one place and you can get so much done,” says Jordan Bitterman, chief strategy officer for Mindshare.

He says that, while the early January timeframe can be challenging, “If you think about it as a marketing event, it’s the perfect time because it helps you set your innovation agenda for the year.”

Bitterman acknowledges that there were no earth-shattering announcements this year, no major product or technology launches. But every year can’t be a breakout year, he says. “Some years are about making a firmer foundation for the industry.”

A case in point is wearables, which were ubiquitous at CES 2014. In the Healthcare pavilion, gadget after gadget was designed to track something: your steps, your heartbeat, the calories you burn.

“A cynic would say, they’re all doing the same thing,” says Bitterman, but in reality, the marketplace is floating things and looking for consumer use cases and monetization opportunities.

“That’s where the hard work happens. It’s industry’s and consumer’s responsibility to vote with their money.” While there were no major wearables announcements, Bitterman believes we’ll see a new round of serious innovation in the next two years.

In the meantime, he thinks, companies like Pandora have to attempt to insert their services into as many different devices and form factors as possible, even if, ultimately, it turns out that mobile phones remain the primary use case.

“They need to have a consumer brand, presence and installed base for when it moves into being an app instead of a separate piece of equipment,” he says. “The whole idea is that these companies have to diversify to capture people wherever they are.”

To Bitterman, it was auto makers that really stole the show. Ford Motors announced that drivers will be able to order Dominos pizzas while driving. Perhaps more significantly (depending on one’s preferences in pizza and OS), Google, Audi, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai and processor maker Nvidia launched the Open Automotive Alliance, promising to work to bring Android into the navigation/entertainment systems of their cars.

Bitterman says, “I love what that might suggest in terms of standardization.” If there were more standardization in the operating systems of the in-car units, brands that have built successful mobile apps could at some point make them available on the car’s dashboard.

“We have to get better standardization in autos and TVs to make developers and brands able to utilize and program for them better.”

Bitterman adds in summary, “It feels like the stuff that’s out there, the hardware and software, needs to go through a period of refinement. This is a rebuilding year. I think that’s okay because I’m interested in seeing where this technology is going to go.”

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