11 January 2019

CES or Detroit?

So, with this year’s instalment of the Consumer Electronics Show coming to a close – has it lived up to the hype?

These day’s it seems as if every new innovation with a flexible screen and built-in A.I. is going to revolutionise pretty much everything. Our hunger for that next bit of tech is never satiated and we have been spoilt for choice in recent years with a runaway train of innovation. Our desire to know about the very latest tech and the ease with which we gain information about impending releases, not to mention companies clambering over one another to get their innovations out ahead of the competition – ensures that it’s harder than ever for us to be truly surprised or blown away with a big reveal.

Obviously, it would be remiss for any global company to forget that there are only 182,000+ people at the show, when they need to connect with a global audience. So, do we need to temper our expectations when it comes to the world’s biggest consumer tech show?

If we look at it in the light that it has only been in the last decade that we have seen automotive and mobility included within the show at all and steadily gaining ground every year, then we have to recognise it has been, and continues to be a very successful segment of the show. There were notable inclusions for the event from Toyota, Kia, Hyundai, Nissan, Byton and Fisker. However, it has been evident that the majority of the OEM’s involvement at CES this year has been limited, as in general they have been presenting along with their tier suppliers and technology partners, often letting them take the lead, although this probably reflects more where the industry is heading. There have also been murmurings across the industry that the OEMs have been holding out on several big reveals at CES, opting for the Detroit Auto Show instead.

So, onto 2020, which sees the Detroit Auto show move dates – quite drastically, from the middle of winter to the middle of summer. The reason being touted for the move in dates is not to sell more convertibles - no, more that summer is preferable to winter in drawing crowds and car buyers, and the cost benefits involved in organising an event in the summer rather than during and just after the festive period. However, the Detroit Auto Show has been held in winter since its very first outing in 1907, so the move has surely been made with more than a little reluctance, offering a sneaky suspicion that CES has been treading on some toes here, forcing Detroit to recognise that the mobility revolution is not going away any time soon and will just continue to diversify and gain ground.

Does Detroit moving dates fuel scepticism that the OEMs are hunkering down for one last big battle with Silicon Valley, with talk of OEMs teaming up for new joint projects - or more likely that their offering is still currently more in line with an auto show than a consumer electronics show?

I for one think it’s interesting, One of the big themes from last year is that OEMs simply have to find new and exciting ways to engage and stimulate consumers, we will have to see what the big takeaways are from Detroit, hopefully it will show signs of progression, as even the most stubborn of the old elite have surely come to accept that change is here, like it or not.

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