When speaking about CES 2015 to IG, Philip Letts, CEO of blur Group, noted that the cutting edge of technology development is now aimed at consumers instead of businesses. Video games and smartphones have ensured that consumer technology is now the place to be.
For most of us, that’s great news. No longer will tech companies treat the general public as an afterthought. As the rise of Google and Apple above the likes of Microsoft, IBM and Blackberry demonstrate, the power of the consumer has fully translated into both the technology industry and global stock markets.
It also raises the profile of events like the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), an annual tradeshow that takes place in Las Vegas in the first few weeks of the year. CES presents chance for those involved in shares CFD trading to gain an insight into how major market players will be enticing consumers over the next few years. Beyond that, it presents a chance to see who might be challenging big business in the near future, and how several trendy technologies are evolving.
The major home tech manufacturers all vie for attention at CES. Sony, Panasonic, Samsung and LG are some of the major brands that save major announcements for their CES press conferences, promising the advent of the ‘smart home’ from their range of gadgets.
It’s a good thing too, as TV innovation isn’t the draw it once was. With opinion split over whether 4K display is a step too far for most consumers – and 3D or bendy displays mainly forgotten gimmicks – TV development is largely moving towards integration with smart options like Google’s Android TV. Sharp did make a step beyond 4K, with a TV that promises ‘virtual 8K’.
What that means for video gaming is so far unclear. A number of games already support 4K resolution for those of us with premium monitors and TVs: but the rig needed for high quality visuals is beyond the price range of most consumers. Whether the newest generation of consoles can support resolutions beyond 4K looks doubtful.
Virtual reality (VR) was one of the buzzwords of the show this year. VR treadmills, new open source development kits, head mounted displays and more ensured that this year’s CES offered a lot for the gaming community. It offered little to challenge the view that Facebook’s Oculus Rift was still the leader of the VR pack, however: as Valve and HTC’s Vive was announced later.
Samsung were most pronounced about enhancing connectivity, speaking boldly about the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) and promising over $100 million in funding. Despite Gartner– an IT research and advisory firm– pronouncing the IoT the most over-hyped technology in development, traders seem to be on board and shares in Samsung increased around 5% over the course of the show.
Sony’s biggest splashes came as evolutions of existing technologies. The FDR-X100V action camera is a challenger to the GoPro – who successfully floated last year – with much higher resolution and wind noise reduction. SmartEyeglass Attach! is similar to Google Glass, but attaches to normal glasses and offers a small screen. Whether it can succeed where Glass has so far failed remains to be seen.
All in all, those companies that announced gadgets that caught the media’s attention tended to do better with traders as well. Facebook shares saw a 3% rally over the five days of the conference, whilst Sony increased 5% in value. Sharp and Panasonic, on the other hand, ended up down around 3%.
The IoT wasn’t the only buzzword echoing around the halls of CES. Wearable tech was possibly the dominant theme throughout, with a host of new gadgets from major manufacturers and new players. The big questions for traders are whether one of the new options on show looks set to become a big player – Withings’ Activité Pop looks a good bet – and whether Apple’s offering will invigorate the smartwatch market.
3D printing, driverless cars and drones were all out in force as well. Once again, the big debate is over whether existing businesses will make major headway in these technologies, or whether they will lead to a new challenger.
Perhaps, then, for traders CES 2015 led to more questions about the state of the field for tech investment than it did concrete answers. But those who are able to correctly predict how the new gadgets revealed at CES are going to affect investments over the next few years could be set for some major returns.