Day two of the Consumer Electronics Show 2016 has wrapped up in Las Vegas, and while auto technology was still in the spotlight, some of the big hitters in actual consumer electronics were making waves as well.
Case in point, the Gear S2 smartwatch. The updated version of Samsung’s round-faced offering now includes NFC to support Samsung Pay and comes in a Rose Gold option.
If that doesn’t sound enough like a direct reaction to Apple Inc.’s (AAPL) Apple Watch, how about this? While Apple offers a Mickey Mouse watch face for the Apple Watch, Samsung will be pasting Peanuts characters on the Gear S2, including Snoopy. Oh, and Samsung also announced that the Gear S2 smartwatch will gain iPhone compatibility later this year, directly competing against the Apple Watch.
Another interesting move on Samsung’s part was to join Apple in glomming onto Microsoft’s (MSFT) Surface Pro bandwagon, although Samsung is taking an even more direct approach. The new Samsung TabPro S tablet shown off at CES 2016 ditches Android for Windows 10.
The 12-inch tablet has a magnetic connector that attaches it to a keyboard case for use as a Windows laptop. That makes the new Samsung offering a direct competitor to the Surface Pro 4 — shoppers won’t have to choose between Windows or a mobile operating system as they do with Apple’s iOS-powered iPad Pro.
Samsung also displayed some of its nicer TVs at CES (as usual) including HDR support, curved screens, and the ability to function as a smart home hub, using the TV screen to control connected smart devices.
Fitbit Fights Back Against Fitness Tracking Smartwatches
Fitbit (FIT) used CES 2016 to announce the launch of its new fitness smartwatch, the Fitbit Blaze. This new device addresses a critical gap in Fitbit’s lineup of fitness trackers. The Fitbit Blaze is the first release from the company that features a color display, and there was also an attempt to make it stylish as much as functional with interchangeable straps and frames. The result is a fitness tracker with the capabilities of the Fitbit Charge HR, the look of a smartwatch, and some smartwatch functionality — namely notifications.
Although it lacks the ability to run third-party apps, the Fitbit Blaze still maintains an edge over full-on smartwatches such as the Apple Watch with 5-day battery life, cross-platform compatibility and a $200 pre-order price tag.
Auto Technology Continues to be Big at CES 2016
Many of the big stories at CES 2016 continued to be on the automotive front. Volkswagen (VLKAY) drove into town with BUDD-e, an electric van with 233 mile range and handle-less doors that open using voice recognition or hand gestures. Ford (F) dropped hints about partnerships for self-driving cars, but management said absolutely nothing about Alphabet’s Google (GOOG) being one of them. The company did state, however, that its goal is to have self-driving Fords on the road by 2020 and said it plans to triple its fleet of autonomous test vehicles in 2016.
Two high-tech partnerships Ford did announce at CES 2016 were rather unexpected. The first was with Amazon (AMZN), whose Echo smart speaker/hub and Alexa digital assistant will be used to let Ford drivers voice-control smart home gear from their cars, while providing vehicle status updates — such as battery charge level on an electric Ford — from inside their homes.
Ford is also working with Chinese drone company DJI to offer Ford F150 pickup trucks equipped with DJI drones that can take off and land from the truck bed in emergency or crisis situations.
General Motors (GM) also made a splash on news that it is investing $500 million in Lyft, the ride-sharing competitor to Uber. The announcement shows GM is hedging its bets, preparing for a future in which auto business trends toward shared ridership in self-driving cars, rather than individual car ownership. Lyft will be turning to GM to take over its efforts in autonomous driving technology.
Of course, there was a lot more going on at day two of CES 2016, but with over 3,200 exhibitors there is no way to touch on them all. However, stay tuned for a CES trends post when the conference wraps up at the end of the week, where we’ll spike out the big themes from this year’s edition of the Consumer Electronics Show.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.
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