The Consumer Electronics Show is in full swing, and a number of “Tech Titans” have marched out to give their thoughts on where the industry is going and how their company fits in.
Sony (SNE) made waves with the announcement of two new cloud-based initiatives for the Playstation 4, and Yahoo (YHOO) showed it’s serious about media, but the “Internet of Everything” theme dominated the show.
Companies like Intel (INTC) and Samsung (SSNLF) are maneuvering to be at the center of the trend (Intel with the chips, Samsung with the things), as Tuesday saw hundreds of smaller companies churning out connected devices.
Here’s our latest roundup of CES 2014 happenings.
CES 2014: Yahoo Expends Media Offerings
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer gave a CES 2014 keynote address — an awkward spotlight to be in given Yahoo’s recent struggles with e-mail outages and a still festering issue where ads on Yahoo’s European servers were delivering up to 27,000 malware infections per hour.
Mayer outlined the company’s plans to expand its online media empire featuring summarized information in easy to digest language. New efforts include Yahoo News Digest, Yahoo Food and Yahoo Tech — the latter being led by former New York Times (NYT) columnist David Pogue. To accompany that new information, acquisitions like Tumblr and partnerships with traditional media outlets, Yahoo is also introducing new advertising tools and analytics.
CES 2014: Sony Brings Gamers PlayStation Now
The more interesting keynote — at least from the perspective of potential disruption — was Sony’s. Besides the expected 4K TV eye candy, CEO Kazuo Hirai unveiled two new cloud-based initiatives on Tuesday at CES 2014: Playstation Now and an as yet unnamed TV Service.
PlayStation Now (launching this summer) will allow PlayStation 4 owners to stream older PlayStation library games — hundreds of titles that are incompatible with the new PlayStation — to the PS4. The cloud-based gaming service is a payoff from its 2012 acquisition of Gaikai.
PlayStation Now lets PS4 owners play the older games on a subscription or rental basis, and could eventually give non-Playstation gamers access. The move instantly gives the new PS4 a huge content edge over Microsoft’s Xbox One and sent a shiver down the spine of used video game market. The Chicago Tribune reports that Gamestop (GME) stock dropped 8.4% after the Playstation Now announcement.
As for the cloud-based TV service due to begin testing in the U.S. this year, it’s being described as a combination of live cable, with DVR-like capability and on-demand content. Sony says it has 70 million Internet-enabled devices in homes today and that its PS3 game console is the No. 1 device being used to watch Netflix (NFLX) in the living room.
If this sounds like Sony could be taking on Netflix, it should be noted that Netflix also announced at CES 2014 that Sony would be a partner in its 4K Ultra HD streaming service. Sony’s service could be seen as a Netflix or cable competitor, but at least for now it’s being targeted specifically at PS4 and mobile device owners and seems to be intended more as a shot at Microsoft’s Xbox One and its living room ownership ambitions.
Swinging back to earlier in the conference, what’s being called the “Internet of Everything” — a term nicked from Qualcomm’s (QCOMM) 2013 CES keynote — started with a push from Samsung, which revealed its Smart Home platform as CES 2014 ramped up.
Samsung’s initiative to put itself at the center of the connected home has potential, thanks to its dominant position as a smartphone and tablet seller (the devices most likely to be used for remotely accessing and interacting with the home). Its established home appliance business also helps — the company has been putting LCD displays and Internet connectivity in refrigerators and washing machines for several years now.
And don’t forget about the large number of Samsung Smart TVs in homes, nor the company’s experience in building software applications for mobile devices. Samsung is also openly courting third parties, trying to make Smart Home a platform that connects all of these connected devices and makes them accessible through a single interface — currently a Holy Grail among home automation.
Intel is trying to regain footing after being caught off guard by the mobile revolution, and CEO Brian Krzanich is hoping to be on the vanguard of the next stage, where everything is connected. Putting Intel chips in smartphones is still important, but he wants Intel to be at the cutting edge of the next generation of connected devices including household appliances, health monitors, fitness bands and other smart wearables. In addition to its own smartwatch, at CES 2014 the company announced a contest designed to spur inventors to create new wearable technology concepts.
That “Internet of Everything” theme has permeated CES 2014 ever since Intel and Samsung took to the stage, and yesterday was full of products and initiatives that have everything from cars to toothbrushes having Wi-Fi, cellular or Bluetooth radios that connect them to the Internet.
My inbox has been full of pitches about connected devices, and I have a Wi-Fi-equipped, smartphone-controlled slow cooker arriving for a test sometime after CES wraps up. (I’ll let you know then if “smart” makes slow cooking chili any more foolproof.) In the meantime, stay tuned for more CES 2014 updates.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.