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With The Consumer Absent, Much of CES2016 Was "Exercise In Wishful Thinking"

With The Consumer Absent, Much of CES2016 Was "Exercise In Wishful Thinking" Jeff Hasen
More than 170,000 attended CES last week, yet the only one that matters was nowhere to be found among more than 2.5 million square feet of packed aisles and shiny objects.



The consumer doesn’t qualify for entry to the businessperson-only show. And while we would hope that all products – from robots to drones to smart appliances and more – were built based on solid end-user insights, that notion is as likely as 95 percent of what was shown becoming runaway hits.



The most astute comment of the week came from David Pogue, longtime consumer electronics pundit, who said, “CES is not a store; it's an exercise in wishful thinking.”



So what wins?



“The consumer is going to decide,” Sean Lyons, U.S. President of R/GA, told me in an interview for my The Art of Mobile Persuasion book (www.artofmobilepersuasion.com). “I think a lot of these early thoughts about how things will be used are wrong often. And it's not because people aren't intelligent. It's because we haven't really found what the behaviors are yet.”



Said Target CMO Jeff Jones on Facebook:



“The consumer will win with choice for sure…but as of now, people will have to choose a “platform” or an “ecosystem” that they buy into for all of their products. We’ve been here many times…Beta vs VHS, iOS vs Android, Mac vs PC, etc.”



Here are more of my thoughts on what I found in Las Vegas:



Samsung has advanced the concept of a refrigerator with the introduction of the "Family Hub" unit that enables users to gauge supply and order from a screen in the door that also offers up recipes. There is even a corresponding smartphone app that gives owners in a supermarket or elsewhere a real-time view of what’s on the shelves and what is absent. But the expected $5,000 price tag puts all but the top one-percent or so out in the cold.



Drones and Virtual Reality caught the eye of many show goers. What grabbed my attention was the prediction by the International Robotics Federation of 35 million units of “service robots” to be sold in the next three years.



“Robots are going to be as popular as cars, machines and airplanes,” predicted Alibaba Group Chairman Jack Ma.



Rather than more employing a robot to clean a floor, for instance, the growth is expected to be driven in large part by the introduction of products to provide assistance for the elderly and handicapped.



According to a story published by the Consumer Technology Association, a recent Georgia Institute of Technology study found that a “surprising number” of seniors (aged 63 to 93 years) would prefer to have a robotic assistant for household tasks rather than a human helper.



As expected, there were lots of exercise trackers. But how many not only gauge movement and rates, but provide context on what the numbers mean? None that I saw.



Speaking of trackers, there seemingly every kind of tracker imaginable, but not one that can tell the Browns where Johnny Manziel is - and whether he is in beard and wig.

Jeff Hasen is one of the leading strategists, evangelists and voices in mobile.  Companies benefiting from his talents have landed on Wired’s list of most innovative entities on Earth and been named pioneers and the early leader in the...

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