Moving the Dial at CES

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It’s CES time in Las Vegas….the great and the good of consumer electronics get together and announce larger screens, newer gizmos and tech trends. This year there is much hullabaloo around two areas which I don’t think will impact most people and one which will. Let’s dive in.

The Internet of Things has been a hot topic in the investment space for a few years. The idea here is hooking up the devices which surround us to the web and make them smart. If you are running low on milk your fridge could message your smart watch or car to remind you to stock up.

Wearables are the other hot topic. Our clothing is in danger of getting smarter and  our watches are becoming mini computers. Both of these areas are interesting and over time they will no doubt become much more widely adopted. At the moment both suffer from several key handicaps:
  • They are typically on the expensive side….certainly above the price point where they will be adopted wholesale by budget conscious kids.
  • They can be clunky to use and fragile….battery life is an old school problem which dogs these new school products.
  • They lack the killer application which will drive mas adoption…I’m a tech-aholic and I’m not particularly driven to adopt either. I already have a computer in my pocket already and if I need milk I’ll remember…or not.

The announcement which I am super excited by is the announcement by dish that for $20 a month they will enable you to stream things like Hulu and Netflix and a bunch of cable mainstays like CNN and ESPN. It doesn’t include the broadcast giants CBS, NBC, ABC or Fox…but it is interesting to note that both ABC and ESPN are owned by Disney so that may foreshadow future developments. I live in a modern very efficient house with solar and pretty much my most expensive utility bill is for Verizon Fios. I have sons who are in college or early into careers and the hundred bucks a month most households shell out for cable TV has been a very intractable bill for them. Users will still have to get internet service to the house which is widely available for about $15 a month. Add in Sling from Dish TV (which can run on pretty much any streaming device including smart TVs and for $35 many households (especially younger cable cutters) may well be satisfied. That’s a huge saving and the cable giants are going to have a fit.

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