Guitars and Vision

What’s hot? What’s not? I spent a few days at the legendary Annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to find out.

Bill Gates was a keynote speaker ( and the hottest item — certainly the most written about was a Sony TV – the OLED paper thin personal set and a whopping $2,500 for the 12-inch model (the only one commercially available today).

Despite lots of cynical reviews everyone walks the floor like kids in a candy store ogling the big screens, the tiny screens, the flashing, jumping spinning speakers (of little value but cool), the 3D screens, the motion detectors that let you box an opponent on screen without Wii batons – bare fisted as it were, the super-juiced computer graphic boards that render in real time and produce the greatest most realistic game graphics you have ever seen (they had to pry me away) and of course the wildest home theatres that give you everything but the popcorn and someone else’s chewed gum on your seat.

Many years ago I had a client, Apollo Computer. It was a niche player in a category called Computer Workstations dominated by SUN. But, Apollo had a very powerful product (today your own laptop is probably at least as powerful) that made it interesting to a number of larger, more mainstream players. In fact, HP bought the company. We helped them launch a number of products that were leading edge, for the time, and it was their displays that taught me a lesson I have applied to the category ever since.

Their sell was on speed and power. But at the levels they were talking it was impossible to do more than talk. But of course talk they did, and of course, they had all the obligatory sales collateral (pre internet) one could want. But, it was what they showed that amazed me. I thought they would show speed of computation, rendering perhaps or whatever. Instead, every screen in the room displayed a baboon’s face in full and “living” color.

When I questioned the Division VP he told me it was simple – even with a finely tuned stopwatch the computation differential between their system and SUN was impossible to comprehend. Sure it made a difference to internal clocks but in the end…but showing fabulous color that their own home TV and most of their computer terminals would not be able to replicate AH – that was impressive. After all he said “even the most technical geek is a human.”

We talked to lots of folks about technical specifications but in the end it was the image that drove the sale. Digital is a foregone conclusion – done deal – don’t waste my time discussion – but look at how I can adjust the light so that you can see better.

Content was the driver. Movies, games, home photos. Software is getting built into the products to do more and more and thus, like the digital question, come off the table. Your TV (which of course can be hooked up to internet – etc.) will have a USB connection and your photos will load directly into the sets own software – no interface necessary. And did I say movies? Everyone was showing their best using great action movies – Transformers and even Star Wars seemed to rule for display.

Interestingly even our own Microsoft’s two key announcements were around content – a new deal to make the entire MGM library available on X-BOX Live and a deal with NBC around the Beijing Olympics for Silverlight. Bothe promoted heavily on video – not a lot – or anything actually – said about the technology.

It was Bill Gates last Keynote at CES – he has done 8 — and I found it interesting that the core of his presentation was also “content” ( No big presentation of vision or future – it seems a bit of a fait de complete.

Seems to me that so many of our industry analysts and others miss the message. They think they have a handle on the market because they study it. They obsess on technology; on digital; argue “head of the pin” arguments and in general make pronouncements and declarations based on their deep, deep learning’s.

Seems to me they are missing the boat. The cruise has left the dock. What they obsess on already is – or will be – the issue is what we do with it.

Listen to this:

To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe.

Observe the people. Observe yourself and your friends. Observe what happened at CES. We already know the game – the real question today is how we play it.

I would strongly argue that this is what makes our business model and what we do so compelling and powerful. It’s about observation – insight – linked to knowledge – we know and adapt and adapt again – but without observation all the knowledge in the world is nothing more than one dimensional information.

Final proof point: here is how Bill Gates ended his last CES keynote

Get the point?

Your turn!

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