A few words on CES…

Mahin Samadani

As you have likely heard by now, the name of the game at this year’s CES was connected everything. After experiencing the range of connected products, from dog collars and beds to toothbrushes, I anticipate we will see a lot of connected products flooding the market this year, though several of them gimmicky or selling the same value proposition. This will be a crucial year in dividing the premium brands, which will focus on strong value propositions as well as stability, simplicity, and delight, from those who provide us with little actual added value.

The exclusive Fjord Trends Tour battled traffic and fatigue to get behind the ropes and beat the crowds in order to get access to a few of the highlights of the show. Here are a few of the takeaways…

Divided on “connection”
Automakers are making more and more noise at CES with their different approaches to the connect products. Audi is pushing the envelope of in-car displays with dashboards that are made up of digital displays that change based on the driver’s context. While Audi focuses on connecting the car to its environment, Samsung Galaxy Gear demonstrates how connecting people to a car can do various tasks. However, the center of attention this year were the companies redefining their brands to build a meaningful connected product. Through the BMW i3 car, BMW is changing the value proposition of what it means to be the “ultimate driving machine” – biasing it towards connectivity, sustainability and efficiency versus driving performance.

Samsung Galaxy Gear Connected Car

Working towards meaning 

One of the most impressive booths, The Samsung Village, illustrates that brands that have been focused on pushing the envelope on technology can also mature to create meaningful services out of this technology. Samsung’s recent investments in design, software, and getting more user-centric are becoming clear in their products. The experience design on their new remote controls is truly delightful – and the way they have smartly integrated with cable boxes is a huge step towards “it just works.” There are numerous smart software design elements, like a set of side windows that can pop up on the TV to show contextually relevant online media (tweets, YouTube, web) – and the ability to watch TV shows that are trending online.

Beware of hiccups
Samsung is undoubtedly moving in the right direction through both engineering and design. The engineering muscle they have is beyond impressive – showing off TVs that can curve at the touch of a button to offer a more immersive experience – though the curvature has 5 different settings, which overcomplicates the user experience.

105 inch CURVED UHD TV

Samsung also showed clear value propositions for their products, which was particularly clear with their appliances. They have backed off from the connectivity and embedded tablets in the fridge door to focus more on what people are doing in their kitchens and laundry rooms. In this new era of showing user relevance I would fully expect a strong return of connected appliances when Samsung has the consumer value proposition clearly nailed.

As a veteran of CES, this year’s show provided a glimpse into the direction of several brands and what we should see hitting the market this year in connected devices. But, if the show was any indication, only a few will actually survive amongst the clutter of connected-anything to deliver real benefit to customer lives.

Mahin Samadani

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