International CES 2012 Buzz About Connectivity – Should Be About Interfaces

Leading into CES 2012 in Las Vegas where the exhibits open this morning, the buzz has been varied.  Last year, it was about 3D televisions.  but just like 3D has cooled off a little in terms of excitement theatrically, it has done the same in consumer electronics.  Everyone will be scrambling through the acres of exhibits for that next big bit of consumer electronics.

From an entertainment perspective, it seems like a bit of buzz has swelled about connectivity – whether through connected televisions or mobile/tablets that act as second screen iterations.  Last year, Panasonic and Samsung showed off some kernels of possibility, but it was early in development and even their staff was ill-prepared to talk about the products.  much like other years, there seems to be more buzz about who is not there – Apple.  With rumors about an Apple TV coming out and the fizzle of Google TV still fresh in everyone’s minds, it would be surprising to see anything mind-blowing on a large-scale.  I fully expect to see some interesting technology that only hints at its possibility as I scour the floors today.  And I expect to see a lot of connected devices – televisions, tablets, phones, refrigerators and who knows what else.  When all is said and done, content is still going to be required and that is why I feel that 2012 should really be about interfaces.

When referring to interfaces, I mean simple connections between these connected devices and the places they want to pull content from.  People can explore the web to find whatever content they want, but the demand for content and the ways that connected devices are set up mean there needs to be more accessibility and logic to retrieve that content quickly. 

We’ve already seen mobile apps that rely on content and then seemingly dry up when those content providers change rules or the interfaces change.  We’ve also seen demand for technology wain when there’s not enough content or features to play with. In the case of connected televisions or second-screen devices, there is usually either too little content or it is too expensive to provide the same quality of content across the board – effectively causing barriers to entry for front-end providers and adoption by consumers.  In the case of BD-Live, consumers just didn’t care when they found that the offerings were extremely limited.  The same kind of apathy would be quite damaging to connected devices across the board.  In a way, its the old question of what comes first – the chicken or the egg.  Consumers are aware that the next big thing is right around the corner, so the offering has to be extremely special to engage them to make a purchase now.

We’re not just limiting ourselves to products unveiled at CES as specifically needing those plentiful interfaces.  There just don’t seem to be enough open APIs to feed the succesful launch of the next generation of killer apps that will grow exponentially once they are more readily available.

Until then, we’ll have to rely on what’s available and the limits they present.  With that in mind, I’ll be searching out what content interface solutions the players are using and will report on what I find tomorrow.

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