#CES2014 The Future of Consumer Electronics: Connected Ecosystems

[This is the 1st of 6 insights we gathered from the Consumer Electronics Show this year at Las Vegas, Nevada, United States]

Apple understands that a hardware product is only as good as the software ecosystem it lives in. It introduced this with the iPod (using iTunes) and subsequently replicated success with the iPhone (with the App Store). Many products presented by the major brands at this year's CES signified an ongoing plan to increase market share through product ecosystems.

Maxus Global CIO, Jason Harrison said at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) last year,

“What’s really interesting is that the device manufacturers have taken a mostly 'walled garden' approach to the content — none of the device and service combinations really give you the ability to work with your existing content libraries in places like iTunes . . . you have to create accounts on their networks and use their content management services in order to have access to your existing music, movies, etc. Which basically tells me that these strategies are mostly in response to one competitor: Apple.”

“So a big question for me is whether manufacturers like Sony & Samsung can really get people to adopt not only their devices, but also their content services, in many cases leaving their iTunes accounts and Apple devices behind.”

At CES 2014, Sony continues to advocate its connected ecosystem strategy through the addition of PlayStation Now: offering its massive library of games from its popular PlayStation 3 & 4 consoles and handheld console, PlayStationVita, to any device with an internet connection and a screen; including SmartTVs. The service is set to be live in Summer 2014 turning these devices into a full-fledge gaming machine powered by the cloud. Read more via CNET

Valve, a popular game developer based in the USA, launched Steam OS operating system (OS) in beta late last year with much anticipation from the gaming community. Steam currently has more than 65 million subscribers and a library containing thousands of games, which means the barriers of entry have been lowered for new entrants like Gigabyte (a PC motherboard producer based in Taiwan), Alienware (a high-end PC game machine manufacturer in the USA) and other 3rd party manufacturers to introduce their own gaming machines and grab their piece of the gaming market. Read more on Steam Machines at CES via the Wired UK report

South Korean electronics chaebol, LG, revived Palm’s webOS, an intuitive and stylish interface controlled by its own motion remote. webOS comes pre-installed with apps like Netflix (TV/Movie Streaming Service) and Pandora (Internet Radio). With more TV manufacturers shipping their set with an OS, Smart TVs are getting smarter. Read more via The Verge

3D Printing remains an industrial product sought after by businesses, geeks and hobbyists until a singular ecosystem can make scanning, modelling and printing intuitive and affordable. Whilst Makerbot launched some diversified sizes of their printer at CES2014, Autodesk’s continuing acquisitions (Circuits.io, DeviantART, 123D, bolt.io, Instructables & Delcam) hint at the most promising strategy for a 3D printing ecosystem in the near future.