It’s official -- we have survived another CES and have new trends to dissect and discuss. However, contrary to previous years, CES focused on a new tone for its 2013 conference -- and it can be summed up as “Born Mobile.”
While mobile has been a key pillar to CES in the past, it always took the back seat to interactive TVs or new desktop technology. However, with Qualcomm opening the conference -- criticism of the keynote aside -- it was clear that we have entered the mobile generation.
The mobile generation is a world where technology is linked to a seamless way of life and screens are not identified as first, second or third, but rather a mobile way of living.
Mobile gets marketers closer to consumers than any other medium, and that notion rang true with the technology and innovations unveiled at CES. As I walked the show floor, the majority of booths were employing mobile either as a primary technology releasing new smartphones or tablets, or they were using mobile as an enabler across other devices.
From lifestyle to entertainment and productivity technology, mobile was present across booths and brands as the “remote control” to daily life.
Mobile Devices' "DNA": Awareness is Key
The impressive presence of Qualcomm and Intel hinted that consumer habits may shift with the rollout of new mobile devices. Consumers may move beyond shopping for a phone or tablet that offers a certain design aesthetic to purchasing based on the “DNA” or internal organs of the device such as the processor.
With the inspiring Qualcomm Snapdragon technology, complete with HD video and a sharp sound system, it is difficult to imagine consumers opting for mobile devices that do not support the microprocessor. While it is hard to become emotional about technology as small as a chip, Qualcomm made you realize the importance of what is working internally in a mobile device rather than the sleek external.
Affordability, Durability and the Phablet
Walking to Sony, Samsung, and new arrival Huawei, I instantly had a case of phone envy. All of the smartphone models boasted an uber-slim look with screen sizes that bridge the gap between phone and tablet, thus creating a new category -- the phablet. And many of the models, such as the Huawei Ascend, added a new level of durability such as offering water-resistant and dustproof devices.
Speaking of Huawei, the Chinese manufacturer unveiled interesting smartphone models. All had the CES 2013 mobile trademarks: light, big screen, durable -- and most surprising, far more affordable than other devices.
The Huawei Ascend D2 is not only an affordable device -- it reportedly offers a battery life double that of the iPhone 5, higher resolution for superior graphics and better touch technology, on top of its ability to face the perils of water and dust. As for the phablets at CES, Huawei also showcased the largest smartphone measuring 6.1 inches. While I did feel slightly odd holding the Huawei Ascend phablet, its bigger screen and sharp graphics will provide an interesting canvas for marketers to play with.
The Connected World Powered by Mobile
The connected home should feel repetitive after being unveiled at previous CES events. However, because of the evolving mobile space, the connected home might be a reality versus a scene coming out of "The Jetsons." LG offered the most impressive connected home display with its “Tag On” technology that can start everything from the vacuum bot to the washer. I can even receive recipes for dinner via mobile based on the ingredients tagged in the refrigerator.
Many auto manufacturers showcased the connected car that seamlessly links with mobile devices, thus transforming the dashboard into a smartphone. Ford seemed to be the frontrunner in terms of the developers they are collaborating with. Everything from Pandora to WSJ, the Ford apps are set to transform the auto into another connected device via mobile.
Connected entertainment or on-demand content powered by the cloud is officially a reality and a way to engage consumers when they are on the go. HBO Go and Xfinity just scratch the surface in terms of content accessibility as we are beginning to see personal owned content. For example, Ultraviolet showcased a service in which consumers can buy movies and not only receive the DVD, but have it saved via the cloud for across device viewing. This way the moving viewer can still consume content anytime and anywhere.
A Walking Advertisement for Mobile Connectivity
I was gifted a Jawbone UP over the holidays, which is an elegant wristband that tracks both sleep, food intake and activity while syncing up to my mobile device. Over the two days that I was at the show, I walked over 30,000 steps (or 15.2 miles). While my feet are still recovering, I realized that I was a walking example of mobile connectivity at CES via my Jawbone UP.
The reason that marketers flock to CES en masse is that the trends and products unveiled at the conference will fundamentally influence how brands can connect with consumers. And if attendees learned anything from CES 2013, it is that we are part of the mobile generation and we are linked to the rest of the world because of our devices.
In a short period of time, mobile devices have transformed into the remote control of our life and marketers need to embrace it. We are not just “Born Mobile” -- we are mobile, and this year’s CES has confirmed just that.