This year’s edition of the Consumer Electronics Show officially kicked off on Monday in Las Vegas. With the emphasis on car technology, so far, it wouldn’t be hard to mistake CES 2016 for an auto show, but products featuring Microsoft Corporation’s (MSFT) Windows 10 have also been front and center.
CES 2016’s Focus on Automotive Technology
Based on what’s being shown at CES this year, the car is shaping up to be a bigger technological battleground than ever before.
Going into CES 2016, there were rumors that Alphabet Inc’s (GOOG, GOOGL) Google would be announcing a partnership with Ford Motor Company (F). With the push to get self-driving cars into production, such a move made sense, combining Google’s technological know-how with Ford’s manufacturing, automotive leadership and extensive dealership network.
Instead, we got the announcement that Toyota Motor Corp (ADR) (TM) would be partnering with Ford, adopting its open-source SDL software to prevent Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Google from dominating in-car infotainment systems with CarPlay and Android Auto. BlackBerry Ltd’s (BBRY) QNX division — a successful supplier of auto infotainment systems — has also agreed to support the SDL standard.
The big automotive reveal at CES 2016 was hardly a secret, however, and it didn’t disappoint. Faraday Future took the wraps off its Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA)-fighting FFZero1 concept car. Looking like something Batman would drive (except for the splash of silver paint), the Faraday electric car is a monster: 4 quad-core motors producing over 1,000 horsepower, sub-three-second 0-60 times and a top speed of over 200 mph.
Obviously, the FFZero1 is not the car that Faraday Future will release to the public, but the existence of the concept vehicle and its impressive specs show that the mysterious company is progressing in its goal to take on Tesla as a manufacturer of premium, high-tech electric cars.
At its CES presentation, Faraday said the FFZero1 platform supports a range of battery-powered vehicle form factors, including compact cars and SUVs. The company is partnering with China’s LeTV for connectivity, in a bid to gain easier access to the potentially lucrative Chinese market.
Faraday now has over 700 employees (including a number from Tesla, Apple and car manufacturers) and has committed to building a 3-million-square-foot manufacturing plant in Nevada. Clearly, Faraday Future is positioning itself to take a run at Tesla, and if the past 18 months has been shrouded in mystery, CES 2016 was the stage where Faraday suddenly got real.
Another big trend at CES 2016 — and one more in line with the show’s roots — was splashed by Microsoft’s Windows 10.
Microsoft announced that Windows 10 is now active on over 200 million devices (with 40% of new activations occurring since Black Friday) and that Windows 10 devices are clawing back PC market share in the U.S. MSFT even claimed that its Lumia 950 and 950 XL Windows 10 smartphones were so popular that demand had outstripped supply.
PC and even smartphone manufacturers were also flogging new Windows 10 devices. Lenovo Group Limited (ADR) (LNVGY), in particular, had a large showing at CES, with new ultra-thin YOGA convertibles and the Ideacentre 610s — a PC that more resembles a Star Wars droid, complete with a built-in projector for splashing content across an entire wall.
Acer showed that Microsoft is not the only company making Windows 10 smartphones, with the debut of its Liquid Jade Primo. The device is a powerful flagship phablet with a 5.5-inch OLED display and a 21MP camera. Launching in Europe in February, the Acer Liquid Jade Primo could possibly reach the the U.S. in the second quarter of 2016.
Naturally, there have been additional consumer electronics announcements at CES 2016. Televisions may not be the stars of the show as they have been in past years, but HDR (High Dynamic Ratio) sets are being shown off and LG brought an 18-inch OLED display that can be rolled up like paper.
CES 2016 is just getting started, so stay tuned for more cool gear and product announcements, including smart home and wearables news.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.
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