What to Look Out for at CES 2020
Rounding up the six key trends that we expect to see next week at the biggest global tech convention
Editor’s note: this post was originally published as a special edition of our Fast Forward newsletter that went out on Jan. 3, 2020. If you wish to receive our newsletters and receive the latest news in tech and media, you can sign up here.
Happy New Year and welcome to the future! In anticipation of the upcoming CES 2020, which will kick off next Tuesday in Las Vegas, the Lab team is staring into our crystal ball and rounding up the key trends to look out for at the biggest global tech trade show. Take this as a preview of all the exciting innovations and cool oddities that we are sure to encounter next week on the show floors.
The CCPA Effect
Data privacy and compliance are guaranteed to be hot topics at this CES, thanks largely to the implementation of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which went into effect on January 1st. Following years of rising awareness and public scrutiny over data privacy issues, the arrival of the CCPA will sure to spark many discussions over the best data practices amongst CES speakers and attendees.
The CCPA is a complex set of new rules designed by the California state legislators to enhance privacy rights and consumer protection for residents of California, but the crux of it boils down to mandating companies that collect consumer data on California residents to disclose their data practices, including collection, usage, and sales, as well as giving consumers an easy way to request their personal data not to be sold and/or to be deleted. (Read this for a high-level summary of the CCPA.) In short, it demands companies to be more transparent with their data usage and offer easy ways for consumers to opt out.
While that might sound rather straightforward, in reality it is a far more complicated issue for companies to tackle and for regulators to reinforce. Under CCPA, companies will need to not only update their privacy policies and figure out the best way to disclose their data practices, but to also create processes for handling the “do-not-sell” and “delete-my-data” requests from consumers in an efficient manner. To further complicate the matter, the CCPA does allow companies to offer monetary rewards or add-on services to entice consumers into sharing their data, so a tiered pricing structure tied to various incentives may become a popular tactic for data collection and retention.
Make no mistake, this new set of regulations will have a significant impact on not just companies that rely on data-driven insights to improve their products and services, but also the entire digital advertising ecosystem, which is predicated on access to consumer data for ad targeting and attribution. And its impact will not be confined to California alone. Although the CCPA is only a state legislation, the rollout of the CCPA no doubt sets the tone for other states looking to protect their residents’ data privacy through legislations. Some businesses might apply CCPA rights across the board because they’re not able to effectively delineate between California consumers and others. Online activities inherently transcend geographical boundaries, and the data business is a global enterprise.
Related CES sessions:
- Chief Privacy Officer Roundtable SuperSession — Tuesday, Jan. 7 at 1 PM
- IPG Women’s Breakfast (For IPG Mediabrands clients, by invitation only) — Wednesday, Jan. 8 at 8:30 AM; all following Mediabrands events will be held at The IPG Mediabrands Suite, located within Wynn Fairway Villas at the Wynn Hotel.
5G is Here — Now What?
While people have been talking about the theoretical potential of 5G at CES for years, this year will mark the first year that 5G is commercially available during the show. CES started out as a gadget show, and while mobile devices no longer hold the center stage as the smartphone market hits a mature plateau, it still plays a big role on the show floor. This year, we will likely see more smartphone makers roll out some 5G-ready handsets to get the buzz going and capture the early adopters.
The 5G arms race among telecom providers continues as we head into 2020. T-Mobile proudly announced in early December that it had become the first U.S. carrier to roll out nationwide 5G coverage, but competitors and skeptics raised questions about the quality of its network, given that this initial launch largely relies on the existing low-band 600MHz spectrum that T-Mobile currently uses for 4G, not the millimeter-wave spectrum that offers lesser range but significantly faster speeds. In contrast, AT&T and Verizon are still expanding their respective 5G coverage to new markets as they mostly stick to the millimeter-wave spectrum.
While 5G networks become increasingly available, its hefty price tag remains a big entry barrier. Until tangible benefits of upgrading to 5G materialize, most consumers are unlikely to make the jump just yet. According to a recent study by NPD, less than 10% of U.S. consumers are spending over $1,000 on smartphones, signaling a major adoption hurdle for the early generation of 5G phones. There are some affordable models on the horizon, and maybe we will get to see some of them at this CES, and the new iPhones coming this fall are expected to be 5G-ready as well, but good 5G budget phones are likely still years away.
Besides mobile, smart home and IoT devices also hold great potential that 5G integrations can help unlock. Expect to see a parade of smart home devices that are 5G-ready right out of the box, boasting reliable, instant connectivity and networked interoperability. In addition, we will also be keeping an eye out for demos of 5G applications in smart cities on the show floor.
Related CES sessions:
- Predictions: How 5G Will Change Your Life SuperSession — Wednesday, Jan. 8 at 10:30 AM
- Samsung Keynote Address — Monday, Jan. 6 at 6:30 PM
Late-Comers in the Streaming Wars
The streaming wars kicked off in late 2019 with the launch of Disney+ and Apple TV+, but there are still more players that are about to join the battle in 2020. Quibi, a subscription service for short video content, is set to launch in April 2020 starting at $4.99 per month for an ad-supported version. Co-founders Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman will take the stage on Wednesday morning to try to convince the attendees that there is a sizable audience clamoring for paid short-form video content, and that the big-name talent that Quibi has signed will produce content worth paying for. Then in the afternoon, NBCUniversal will host their keynote section to presumably unveil an early look at their upcoming streaming service Peacock and make a case for its multi-tiered pricing scheme.
It is worth noting that both Quibi and Peacock will carry ads for their more affordable tiers to subsidize the subscription cost, which means a lower entry barrier for consumers looking to augment their existing portfolio of streaming services with additional options. This approach may offer the late-comers a better shot at competing against more established players like Netflix and Disney or potential bundle sellers like Apple and Amazon, but they will still need to contend with a growing aversion to commercial breaks and changing viewer behaviors. With the right executions, the late-comers to the OTT market may finally bring TV advertising into the streaming age.
Related CES sessions:
- Quibi Keynote Address — Wednesday, Jan. 8 at 9:30 AM
- NBCUniversal Keynote Address — Wednesday, Jan. 8 at 4 PM
- CES 2020: The Disruption of Entertainment — Tuesday, Jan. 7 at 10 AM (for Mediabrands clients only)
- CES 2020: Quibi Presentation — Wednesday, Jan. 8 at 2:30 PM (for Mediabrands clients only)
The Smart Home Turf War Continues
As with the previous years, CES will remain a major stage for a myriad of smart home device makers vying for buyer attention. Underlying the teeming boom of IoT devices at home is a tug of war between Amazon, Google, and Apple to seize the market as platform providers for the future of home interface. Don’t be fooled by the so-called alliance that the three big tech players (plus Zigbee) recently formed to promote an open standard for smart home devices, which is a mutually beneficial play to push compatibility among various smart home platform and help the platforms scale beyond individual households. When it comes to conquering the user interface of tomorrow, the turf war rages on.
What’s different this year is that Apple will make a rare appearance at CES to promote HomeKit, its connected home platform. Previously, Amazon and Google typically held a duopoly on driving the smart home discussion at CES due to their massive presence (most IoT maker’s booths featured one or both companies’ logos). While Apple itself won’t have a branded booth, its logo will be plastered over the booths of third-party IoT brands. It will be interesting to see what Apple’s first official CES presence in decades can do to build awareness and rally the third-party manufacturers.
Related CES sessions:
- IoT: Moving into an Anticipatory Tech World SuperSession — Tuesday, Jan. 7 at 3 PM
- 2020: The Year We Adopt Home IoT Solutions — Wednesday, Jan. 8 at 9 AM
- CES 2020: Innovation in the Connected Home — Tuesday, Jan. 7 at 1:30 PM (This session will take place in the Discovery Suite at the Sands Expo)
- CES 2020: The Disruption of Food — Tuesday, Jan. 7 at 12 PM (for Mediabrands clients only)
Electric Cars Ready To Go
In recent years, auto brands enjoyed increased presence and exposure at CES, flooding the LVCC show floors with futuristic-looking concept cars and offering impressive demos of cutting-edge auto technologies. For the last two years, electric vehicles and automated driving are equally important talking points for automakers at CES.
This year, however, we expect talks of driverless cars, which remains in pilot testing stage and years away from mainstream deployment, to take a backseat to new models of electric vehicles, which are ready for the global consumer market. Although some companies have already unveiled their flagship 2020 EVs at solo events, Nissan is expected to debut a new electric vehicle while BMW is set to showcase the new, sleek-looking i3 Urban Suite EV, which features a lounge-style two-seat interior.
Of course, CES wouldn’t be CES without some outlandish prototypes from the auto brands, and this year will be no exception. Honda will be unveiling an “augmented driving” concept with a “reinvented” steering wheel while Hyundai plans on showing off a flying car concept. As always, you can marvel at the future of transportation at CES — just don’t expect to ride in any of those prototypes any time soon.
Related CES sessions:
- Daimler Keynote Address — Monday, Jan. 6 at 8:30 PM
- U.S. Department of Transportation Keynote Talk — Wednesday, Jan. 8 at 11:30 AM
- CES 2020: The Disruption of Mobility — Wednesday, Jan. 8 at 12 PM (for Mediabrands clients only)
Travel Innovations Expand Presence
Another interesting area to look out at CES 2020 will be innovations in the travel and tourism space. Travel brands have had a pretty limited presence at previous CES shows, give or take a Carnival Cruise keynote in 2017 and a few tangentially travel-related startups. This year, however, with Delta Airlines leading a keynote address and a brand new content category devoted to the travel industry, we are ready to see more startups that are transforming the travel and tourism industries and hear more talks about how digital technologies are enabling brands to provide a more enhanced, efficient and customized travel experience.
Related CES sessions:
- Delta Airlines Keynote Address — Tuesday, Jan. 7 at 8:30 AM
- AI and VR in Travel — Monday, Jan. 6 at 9:00 AM
Beyond these six key trends, CES wouldn’t be CES without the massive TV sets, multiplying drone companies, and a dazzling variety of niche gadgets aiming to solve a specific problem that you never really thought of. It’s all part of the beauty of this crazy event. We hope you will join us on this journey as we step into a new decade of innovations. Stay tuned for more on-the-ground CES coverage next week, delivered straight to your inbox.