Key takeaways from CES 2019

11 January 2019

It’s that time of the year again. While many of us may be indulging in the January blues, The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2019 can at least give tech-nerds like us a much needed pick-me-up!

As probably the most well-renowned tech show on the planet, all the biggest global companies and tech-heads have gathered in Las Vegas to showcase the most innovative and forward-thinking technology around. The likes of Amazon, Google, Samsung and, for the first time, Apple, showcased at this year’s event. Outnumbering the giants were a whole host of smaller companies bringing out their sometimes weird and always wonderful tech. With Apple’s recent surprise profit warning, this year’s CES has highlighted more than ever the need for behemoths to constantly adapt and evolve to keep up with the challengers.

The show has been dominated by superbly impressive gadgets, with some more likely than others to have a profound effect on our everyday lives in the years to come. Roll-up TV sets (LG), automated bread-makers (Wilkinson Baking Company) or laundry folding machines (FoldiMate), are some of the most talked about examples. However, while gadgets are always seriously cool at CES, they were not what captured the world’s attention. Instead, software services had a more powerful impact.

It won’t come as a surprise that the real showstoppers came from the big names. Google and Amazon, (with their respective technologies; Google Assistant Connect and Alexa) are looking to position themselves as the primary voice assistant providers in the industry. A range of new smart products showcased at CES have these assistants built into them, including garden parasols, which expands the idea of the ‘Smart Home’ into a ‘Smart Garden’. Starting life as the main selling-point of the Amazon Echo, Alexa is making the transition into a service in its own right. This gadget-to-service shift was also something being showcased in opposition camps, such as Apple.

Apple presented a much stronger presence at this year’s Las Vegas event compared to previous shows. This was not the only ‘first’ Apple brought with them, however, as in an unexpected move they partnered with a huge rival – Samsung. Alongside LG, Vizio and Sony, Samsung showed off a new range of smart TVs integrated with Apple’s ‘HomeKit’ and ‘AirPlay 2’ services. Indeed, many of us will have heard of AirPlay before. But seeing an Apple product partnered with another brand is highly unusual. Notorious for being very productive of its brand and producing its own version of EVERY gadget, this new approach suggests that Apple is opening its mind and evolving into the world of services.

Apple are not resting on their laurels. For a company which has been able to rely on global infatuation since its conception, this change of direction is going to be interesting. With other major tech brands following this same trend, perhaps this is the space to watch.