This year’s edition of the Consumer Electronics Show has wrapped up. The usual dazzling display of new TVs was there and as always, there were impractically wacky gadgets galore, many of them “smart” devices. Two companies that did not formally attend CES 2017 stood out this year.
Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) was everywhere, thanks to Alexa its virtual assistant. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), on the other hand was notable for a year in which third party companies were not falling over each other to show off the latest device designed to work with Apple’s gear.
CES 2017: Smart Cars, Smart Homes, Expensive TVs
This is CES, so TVs were everywhere. Big, bright, expensive TVs, many featuring QLED displays. There were new PCs, including crazy gaming laptops that cost as much as a small car and the smart home remained a big theme — even hairbrushes got “smart” this year. To run all those connected devices, a new generation of mesh routers also had a moment in the spotlight.
Of course, in recent years, the Consumer Electronics Show has morphed into an auto show as well. This year, there was a big reveal in the Faraday Future FF 9. This luxury, high performance electric car has eyes on the market started by Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) — if it survives to see production. Also making news, Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) announced it will integrate Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant in its cars.
And that news is the perfect segue into the idea that it was Amazon that won CES 2017.
CES 2017: Amazon Alexa Everywhere
Like Apple, Amazon didn’t have a booth at the Consumer Electronics Show. But the company’s Alexa voice assistant was seemingly everywhere. As mentioned, Ford is putting Alexa in its car infotainment systems (drivers can order items on Amazon or have an audiobook read back to them), and the auto maker is also giving Amazon Echo speakers advanced control over its plug-in electric cars, including the ability to start the car on command. Volkswagen AG (ADR) (OTCMKTS:VLKAY) also announced Alexa integration is coming.
Companies like LG introduced their own smart speakers, with Alexa inside. A series of new 4K TVs were introduced with built-in Amazon Fire TV functionality, including Alexa voice control. Alexa showed up in home appliances, including refrigerators and washing machines. It’s also in a smartwatch. ADT Corp (NYSE:ADT) announced homeowners will soon be able to voice control its Pulse smart home security system using Alexa.
And in perhaps the biggest coup of all — at least in terms of sticking it to the personal assistant competition — China’s Huawei is releasing an Android-powered smartphone for the U.S. market that features Amazon’s Alexa.
Alexa is gaining momentum at a rapid pace. AMZN’s Alexa-powered Echo speaker grew from 1,000 skills (third-party integrations) seven months ago to over 7,000 today.
CES 2017: Apple Sidelined
Apple never attends the Consumer Electronics Show, but for the past decade or so, the company has always felt like the elephant in the room. Not physically there, but somehow in the middle of everything. Between the iPod, iPhone and iPad, it always seemed like half the companies at CES were releasing gadgets that were made specifically to work with Apple’s hardware. Speakers, controllers, cases, smart devices, car stereos, battery packs — you name it. This year, not so much.
And in terms of Siri vs. Alexa — AMZN’s personal assistant underdog that snuck into the home in the guise of the Echo smart speaker — it’s not even a contest at this point. Compare those 7,000 AMZN Alexa skills to the under 100 products Apple lists as being compatible with its HomeKit automation standard (with Siri voice control) and you get the idea.
2017 Is the Year AZMN Won the Consumer Electronics Show
CES 2017 was the year Alexa starred and marked a low point of interest in piling on the Apple bandwagon, something that has been a big part of the show for the past decade. Apple has a critical year ahead. It’s hoping to rebound from a lackluster 2016 and has the iPhone’s 10th anniversary to leverage for momentum.
However, after what transpired during the past week, it’s going to be interesting to see if CES 2017 sets the stage for a transitional year, where Amazon’s tech races to the forefront and Apple sputters.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.