PR Vibes: Highlights and Takeaways for CES 2018

Highlights and Takeaways for CES 2018

Las Vegas
Las Vegas Convention Center
January 9 – 12, 2018

Attendance: 180,000+
Exhibitors/Sponsors: 3,900+
Media/Analysts: est. 8,000

CES 2018

CES 2018 provided fuel and momentum for voice assistants and self-driving car technology, but the world’s largest consumer electronics show may also be remembered for a major announcement that was scuttled in the final hours.

Huawei, the world’s third-largest smartphone manufacturer by volume, was widely expected to gain a coveted foothold in the U.S. market, but its planned partnership with AT&T was dashed just hours before a major presentation. According to news reports, U.S. lawmakers pressured AT&T to drop its plans to carry handsets from the China-based vendor because of national security concerns. It’s an issue that has dogged Chinese vendors’ ability to form partnerships in the U.S., and Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s consumer products division, didn’t hold back when it came time to address the mistrust that continues to hang over the company.

Elsewhere, the battle for voice assistants and their growing presence in all types of appliances and hardware was impossible to avoid. While Amazon’s Alexa assistant was the undisputed king of last year’s event, Google came back roaring with a massive presence and a strategy that screamed for attention. “Hey Google” was plastered all over Las Vegas in the form of billboards and other signage throughout show’s venues and other major destinations in the city

The Buzz. Voice and IoT, auto technology, televisions, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and augmented reality, robots, health and 5G.

Despite the inevitable hype and subsequent disdain for such a massive conference among some members of the media and road-weary analysts, CES 2018 lived up to more sensible expectations. There’s a long list of products and ideas that never see the light of day after being showcased at CES, but the trends that bubble up around the halls, on panels and at various networking events, highlight the general direction and potential of future products and technology.

“All of these together are just a reminder that CES encompasses and touches nearly everything we do every day,” wrote Steven Sinofsky, a board partner at the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and former executive at Microsoft.

The Program. CES 2018 was largely focused around some key themes, including: consumer IoT, voice, automotive tech, televisions, artificial intelligence, media and entertainment, and immersive technology such as virtual reality and augmented reality.

Keynotes and fireside chats came from top executives at Intel, Ford, Huawei, Qualcomm, Verizon, Baidu, IBM, UnitedHealthCare, Hyperloop, WPP, WWE, Univision, Discovery Communications, Comcast, YouTube, A+E Networks, Hulu, Turner and others. The full program comprised more than 800 speakers.

The Exhibition. Roughly 4,000 companies were exhibiting at CES 2018, including Intel, NVIDIA, Samsung, Panasonic, HTC, AT&T, Baidu, Xiaomi, Lenovo, Google, Amazon, JBL, Sony, LG, Dell, Kodak, Vivo, Kohler, Sandisk and many others. At least 170 auto-related companies were exhibiting, including 11 major carmakers on the show floor. Overall, car tech occupied 300,000 square feet of space, marking a 23 percent increase from last year’s event.

With a total of more than 2.75 million square feet of exhibit space spread across 11 sites, CES 2018 was the largest in the event’s 51-year history. As usual, the size and global interest in the event makes it very difficult for smaller upstarts to get recognized, but most businesses consider it a must-attend event nonetheless. Opportunities still outweigh the challenges for many.

The event organizers encountered unique challenges of their own. Heavy rainfall on the second day of CES wreaked havoc on huge outdoor booths and caused 90-minute power outage in the convention center’s main exhibit hall.

Media & Analysts. Members of the press and analysts flock to CES more than almost any other business conference in the world. Despite burnout on the part of those who’ve attended the event for many years, the opportunity to be in the same city and perhaps same room as the most influential players in the industry outweighs almost every other factor. More than 860,000 tweets were published.

The Wrap on CES 2018. CES 2018 broke records this year for total attendance, exhibition space and exhibitors on site. Las Vegas was once again ground zero for all things tech for the second full week of the year. While some attendees will always be underwhelmed, CES continues to lay the groundwork for much of the news and innovation that will flow out of the industry for the remainder of the year.

While mobile has largely become the mainstay of Mobile World Congress, 5G emerged in a big way at this year’s CES. An entire keynote panel was dedicated to 5G mobile innovation with top executives from Baidu, Verizon and Qualcomm. It’s become abundantly clear–not only to those in the wireless industry, but virtually every industry that benefits from connectivity—that 5G has the potential to transform how their businesses operate. Verizon and AT&T are both committed to launching 5G service in select U.S. markets this year.

Virtually everything showcased or discussed at CES will be buoyed by the continued strength of the consumer technology industry, which is projected to contribute $351 billion in retail revenue to the U.S. economy in 2018.

Next Up: CES 2019: January 8-11, 2019, Las Vegas

Articles of Interest

AT&T Backs Off Deal to Sell Smartphones From China’s Huawei
The Wall Street Journal
By Stu Woo and Betsy Morris
January 8, 2018

CES 2018: Everything you need to know about the world’s biggest tech show
By Michelle Fitzsimmons
January 12, 2018

CES 2018: The final word
By John Falcone
January 15, 2018 

Virtual assistants and car tech dominated CES
By Ina Fried
January 11, 2018

5G Makes Networking Cool Again at CES 2018
By Sue Marek
January 10, 2018

CES recap: 5G steals some of the spotlight
By Monica Alleven
January 11, 2018

CES 2018: Real Advances, Real Progress, Real Questions
Learning By Shipping
By Steven Sinofsky
January 15, 2018


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