The CES tradeshow is one of the world’s largest annual innovation tradeshow events, parading new tech, directions for companies, and trends that are defining markets each year. Stunningly, CES has a show floor larger than 393 basketball courts that showcases the launch of over 20,000 products on average. It’s nearly impossible to catch every exciting announcement or new tech on the market, but that why I created my Top 5 list of things you might have missed at CES 2015, and why they matter.
1. Volkswagen adopts both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay: The smart phone OS battle has raged for years between Apples iOS and Google’s Android platforms, but who would have thought that battleground would have switched so quickly to the Infotainment systems in vehicles? With Google announcing Android Auto this past June, as well as Apple’s CarPlay being launched in March of last year, the adoption of both systems in Volkswagen’s line of vehicles for 2015 is an interesting turn of events. Will BlackBerry’s QNX OS slowly be phased out from in-car telematics? Will relegating the in car screen to a dumb receiver to our powerful smart phones be the definitive answer for the connected car? Will the two horse OS race of mobile completely dominate the connected car landscape? The announcement by Volkswagen’s partnership with both companies is a turning point that presents a lot of questions about the future of the automotive industry and the connected device landscape.
2. Panasonic TV’s are now equipped with Firefox OS: The Firefox OS has received a lot of slack this past year for hitting the mobile OS market with what was arguably a ‘lame duck’ approach looking to avoid all competition with Android and iOS. Focusing directly on emerging markets, the OS still struggled in the face of steep competition in the low-end market. That’s why it’s all the more surprising to see Panasonic announce that they would be working with Mozilla to develop and promote a new Firefox OS for their next generation smart TV’s. The new platform promises to use full capabilities of web technologies and HTML5 standards enabling data from web services and devices to be easily integrated into apps and providing developers with a flexible platform to cross leverage content from the internet. In addition, utilizing Mozilla’s WebAPI’s for hardware control and operation, Mozilla has also hinted at future implementations enabling the control of smart home appliances beyond just the TV. Whether this takes off for Mozilla and Firefox OS remains to be seen, but it’s a vastly improved direction for the stagnant company and points to an IOT future for Firefox OS.
3. Dish announces Sling TV: Online video streaming has jumped 60% in the past year with U.S adults spending an average of 10 hours and 42 minutes per month watching Netflix and other streaming services. Cable Cutters are an ever growing danger for today’s cable companies with many looking for ways to offset the loss as well as usher in these consumers looking for considerable value in their content purchases. Targeting the highly sought after Millennial generation, who prefer pay streaming services accessible across connected devices, Dish Network surprised the masses with their announcement of Sling TV, an Over-The-Top (OTT) Internet TV service. Starting at $20, the service will be launching across a considerable amount of internet-connected devices as well as media streamers and smart phones. The base package comes with channels like ESPN, ESPN2, Disney Channel, ABC Family, Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, TNT, CNN, TBS, Cartoon Network, and Adult Swim, with additional channels available for $5 each. The service is set to launch in March of this year and will undoubtedly see cable execs keeping a close eye on how well it does with cable cutters.
4. Intel announces PC-in-your-pocket Compute Stick: With the tablet market looking stale at the moment, CES 2015 had a huge resurgence of PC’s, particularly laptops and hybrids. While PC’s are getting thinner, lighter, faster, Intel’s Compute Stick stood out as a really clever idea. The stick is roughly the size of a Chromecast providing what’s essentially a full-fledged Windows PC that can be plugged into an HDMI port of any screen. Packed with the same hardware found in Intel-powered Android tablets, the low cost Mini plug in PC doesn’t intend to be a replacement for your dedicated PC, but rather provide a perfect mix of computing power between a full pc and a tablet, all the while letting you access Windows apps and services across any screen.
5. BlackBerry announces its own IOT platform: One of the biggest announcements of CES came on Day 3 when BlackBerry launched its long awaited IoT (Internet of Things) platform. After nearly a half decade wait, BlackBerry detailed that the platform, formerly called ION, would focus on the automotive and asset tracking industries with its set of cloud services and data interfaces. Utilizing QNX RTOS, the platform is said to leverage the company’s extensive software portfolio highlighting BlackBerry’s security services and permissions as key differentiators amongst competitors. With plans to move the platform into smart energy and healthcare sectors, BlackBerry is making great moves to expand its software and technology to lucrative markets outside of smart phones and consumers where it is seeing little uptake.