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CES Recap

Polled the team at GGV for thoughts and insights from CES – below are a few of our team’s thoughts/summaries of the show.

My personal view. I’ve been going to CES for many years now.  From my perspective, this year’s was the most disappointing.  Yes, there were some cool new tv’s, and lots of tablets, and lots of cool gadgets and attachments to Apple stuff (a lot, in fact) – but there was nothing that made you go “wow!”  OK, maybe the Audi R8 Etron – an all-electric version of the R8 – which was pretty damn cool (check out the Wired video here).  In fact, with all of the announcements about Internet-connected cars (including lots of cool stuff from GGV portfolio company Pandora), one could argue that was the highlight.   Other than that, I wasn’t blown away.

Tablets were clearly “the big thing” this year.  One of my favorite quotes of the week: Friend of mine to rep at Motorola holding the new Moto tablet (Xoom) – “So…what’s the difference between this and the iPad?”  Moto rep responds “You’re the 651st person who’s asked me that today.”  To be fair, the Xoom does have some cool new features, is going to run on Android Honeycomb, and was named “Best Gadget” at CES.  However, one could not help feeling like many of the tablets at CES are a day late and a dollar short – that’s the best we can come up with 9 months after the iPad launched?

Glenn Solomon’s take.  One interesting observation – even though Apple isn’t present at the show, nearly half of all the exhibitors I saw were displaying direct or indirect linkages to Apple products.  Android was also quite prevalent.  It’s really amazing how much of the consumer electronics ecosystem is now ultimately controlled by these two forces.  And there are many companies whose market power is dwindling or gone – Sony, Motorola, RIM, etc.  Also, perhaps riding the Kinect wave, I saw a fair bit of 3-D and augmented reality.   This trend seems to be gaining a lot of steam.

Adam Altman’s take.  1) Lots of tablets, Samsung Galaxy appears to be only real competitor, we’re likely to see hundreds of Chinese knockoffs flood the market and bring down prices, 2) lots of wireless charging technology – why do I need it?, 3) TV’s are maxing out on core features, 3D still a big push but not clear consumers are biting, 4) on 3D TV’s, most manufacturers are pushing the active shutter glasses – an even harder bite for consumers when they’re $150 a pop.

Scott Bonham’s take.  Energy level was higher this year than last year.  Lots of cool but unnecessary gizmo’s flying off the shelves – see $500 ski goggles with GPS.

Kevin Chen’s take.  1) Everybody has a tablet design, and the hardware / operating systems are already commoditized and easy to do.  However, most except Apple do not know how they want to position their offering.  Say what you want about Cisco’s tab, at least they know where they want to go with it.  Everybody just seems lost, which might favor the mass suppliers such as Nvidia and Marvell.  Commoditization of tablets will be here soon, and I’m wondering if the tablet era will be just as short as the Netbook era.  2) I guess related to the point above, it is scary how many random Chinese and Korean companies Adam and I have never heard of that have these huge booths with full product lines.  The future is looking more crowded than ever for established American and European companies.

Hany Nada’s take.  For the fourth year in a row – didn’t see anything that was BREAKTHROUGH.  Dual screen laptops seemed to be a rising trend.  The Acer Iconia featuring Microsoft was cool.

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