Monday, January 12, 2009



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Most recent entries in the new home to this blog include daily updates from the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

We look forward to your continued readership and comments on the new site!

Kind regards,

Christine Persaud

Monday, January 5, 2009

CES 2009: Focus on the Affordable

This year's CES, which takes place from January 8-11 in its usual spot, Las Vegas, NV, will undoubtedly serve as host to fewer visitors, and carry a much more restrained focus, so to speak, than in previous years. The reason is obvious: the state of the economy. But this isn't to say that there won't be plenty to see. On the contrary, we'll just see the focus shift to products, technologies, and features that might not have played such an important role before.

For one, this year's event will probably see more emphasis placed on affordable gadgets, like portable navigation and media players, over big-ticket items. If a company is promoting a big ticket flat panel TV, speaker system, or what not, bet your bottom dollar that his pitch will focus on an aspect of the product that will help to save energy and consequently, money.

But energy savings isn't the only place that manufacturers can hang their affordable hats: things like Internet TVs could negate the need to buy a separate, large display monitor for your computer; while the new slew of Internet radios might encourage people to spend less on digital music and CDs. Then of course there's the age old argument that, when you have a fantastic home theatre system at home, why would you need to head out to the movies (or elsewhere) on a Friday night? Taking that into consideration as well, I wouldn't be surprised to see things like high-tech board games and other home entertainment gadgetry being pitched to passers-by.

More affordable gadgets as a whole will see greater presence at this year's event: everything from rechargeable batteries that help save the environment and dollars to video games and systems; one area that is still doing well despite the economic situation. Other small-ticket items like portable navigation devices, MP3 players, and iPod-related fare will be hot with retailers looking to offer consumers a greater selection of items that won't hurt their pocket books.

Don't take this to mean, however, that makers of the more expensive and sophisticated technology will be twiddling their thumbs on the show floor because retailers think consumers won't be investing for the first part of this year. CES will still serve as a time to learn about the new technologies, find out what's what, and make at least preliminary, if not final, decisions on what to bring in store.

As some other reports have pointed out, CES could also serve the dual purpose of helping business partners avoid additional travel. Many dealers meet with vendors after CES, often times traveling to their offices (or vice versa) to make plans for the year. CES could, in many ways, take the place of this extra travel costs: let's find out everything we need to know at the show now, then make final decisions by phone, e-mail, or video conference later.

Anecdotally, after asking around, I've heard speculation that attendance to this year's CES will be down anywhere from 15 to 40%. When we're looking at Canada specifically, this will be hard to tell. It's safe to assume that most custom A/V dealers won't be attending the show since CEDIA is really their "beat". Major manufacturers and retailers will likely be sending a smaller complement of staff down. But smaller companies may see this as an advantage, sending their usual roster of staff, both on the dealer and and manufacturer/distributor side, in order to ensure that they don't miss a beat.

At this point in the game, all we can do is wait and see. We'll keep you updated through reports straight from the show floor. Stay tuned!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year! What Lies Ahead?

Another year, another 365 days. What do we have to look forward to in the consumer electronics industry in 2009? We'll find out much of this at the 2009 International CES, which commences next week in Las Vegas. But there is still plenty that we can safely anticipate.

When it comes to flat-panel TV technology, this could be the year for OLED. Sure, Sony has already been selling its portable (and stunning!) model for more than a year; but might we see larger-format displays utilizing the technology in homes this year?

In the cellular arena, new carriers will commence operations by around Q3/Q4. What will this mean for existing carrier business? What's more, can new entrants even sustain themselves through this troubling economy? After all, building an entire cellular network is a costly venture! Google's Android format will also hit the phones market in full force by the end of this year, leaving much to the imagination on the apps and software side.

Internet radios are also poised to make waves. It's an interesting paradox: while many other devices encourage us to buy digital music online then stream it to our home audio systems, these radios base their differentiating factor on, in part, free, Internet radio content. Could they result in a drop in the sale of digital music? Probably not, since people still like the play their own collections. But these radios do point toward a larger trend in the industry: the connection of the PC to the overall home theatre system.

On that front, many people are excited to see what the PC companies are up to this year. What's up Microsoft's sleeves? Intel? And with Steve Jobs absent from this year's Macworld (which will be the last Apple participates in), will 2009 be a quiet year from the Mac, iPod, and iPhone maker?

We can't, of course, ignore the state of the economy, which will inevitably lead to tough times ahead. But this doesn't mean technology development becomes stagnant, nor that people lock themselves up at home never to visit a retail store again until times get better. Shopping through the holidays, and especially on Boxing Day, proved that Canadians still have a relatively positive outlook that we'll get through the financial crisis.

Still, 2009 is poised to be an exciting year for this industry, as always. Stay tuned next week, where we'll be reporting to you from CES!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Holidays!

I've been forced to feel remiss for wishing anyone a Merry Christmas, worried that perhaps they might not celebrate that particular holiday, be insulted that I did not also wish them a Happy [insert holiday here] as well, or worse, be offended that I would assume off the bat that they must celebrate Christmas.

While I don't agree with the fact that we're almost unable to visibly recognize Christmas in a public place, whether it be a city's "holiday" tree, or in school, I do agree with recognizing and respecting everyone's holidays.

With that said, if you do celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas to you and yours from the entire team at Marketnews and here's how! magazines, MarketnewsGadgetTalk blog, and Bomar Publishing Inc.

If you don't celebrate Christmas, or also celebrate another holiday, here's what I hope to be a comprehensive list of the holidays you are likely to celebrate:

Happy Hanukkah
Happy Kwanza
Happy Saturnalia
Happy Holidays
Best Wishes
Joyous Season
Joyeux Noel
Happy New Year

If I'm missing anything, please feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments section below.

Stay tuned after Christmas for more for blog entries; as well as a new home for MarketnewsGadgetTalk.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Gearing up for CES...and the Adult Expo?

It's not even Christmas, yet everyone in this industry is already gearing up for the 2009 International CES in Las Vegas. You're weeding through hundreds of e-mail product pitches and meeting requests. Setting up booth tours and plotting out a daily plan that allows you to cover as much ground as possible, and meet as many clients (and potential clients) as a day and evening will permit. Are you attending, and have you created a schedule yet?

Judging from e-mails requesting that I come see a nifty new gadget, or advising that on-site interviews can be set up with key manufacturer executives, it's clear that there will be plenty to see at the show. The most puzzling e-mail request I received, however, originated from an exhibitor at the Adult Expo, which runs concurrent to CES, inviting me to register, and visit their booth at that show. Two things initially crossed my mind. First: where do they see a tie-in between my industry and theirs? And second: how on earth did this person gain access to my e-mail address since the two expos have nothing to do with one another other than sharing the same city as their venue?

The person was pitching an iPhone application that optimizes adult films for viewing on the portable device's screen. Ahhh, now I get it. There is a clear tie in. Still: would traditional CE journalists cover this?

In many ways, when you think about it, the adult industry is a huge part of the consumer electronics industry. A few years ago, people were even predicting that X-rated films could very well be the deciding factor between which format won the high-definition DVD war - Blu-ray or HD DVD. In fact, this particular firm claims to have been filming in HD for the past 5 years! There are lucrative opportunities there, that's for certain. But you're walking a fine line if you consider covering this side.

With that said, while the Adult Expo won't be on my radar during CES (as if we don't have enough ground to cover already!), it'll be interesting to see how that area of business could eventually become further entwined with CE; especially with HDTVs, the Internet, and downloadable content making waves as the way of the future for content of pretty much every kind. Yes, including the adult kind.

As for CES, many still wonder whether attendance at the show will be down. It probably will be, but I doubt to very noticeable proportions. Exhibitors will have booked their booth space a year in advance, which means there will be just as much product on the show floor. From an attendee perspective, we'll most definitely see fewer feet roaming the aisles. But it will still be a packed show floor. And if some of those people decide to take the Adult Expo up on their offer and mosy on over to those exhibits at the Sands Convention Centre, so be it. But rest assured that the only scantily clad "booth babes" you'll see in the mainstream media will be holding a gadget of some sort, or standing nearby a line of flat-panel TVs.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What Will They Think of Next?: Santa Sends a Personal Video Message to Your Child

Every year, kids from all over the world pen letters to Santa, assuring that they've been nice, and requesting their favourite toys, along with things like peace on earth and happiness for all. They might receive a letter back confirming that Santa has received the note, but in the digital age, why not take things one step further? Sympatico/MSN has done just that with a dedicated Website, that allows you to create a personalized message from Santa to a child of your choice.

Visit the site, and answer questions like how old the child is, whether it's a boy or girl, and what his/her name is. Select (from an existing list of options) what the child has requested for Christmas (a doll, electronic toy, or movie, perhaps?) To make the message even more personal, you can even upload a photo of the child, which will appear on the "nice" list that Santa has on his lap.

Once completed, show the child the video message that Santa e-mailed to you for him/her; you've got connections! The fact that he calls the child by name, knows his/her age, and even what the child has asked for, will light up the child's face. The only drawback is that if the child's name isn't in the pre-made list, while you can manually type it in for consideration to be added to the growing list, Santa won't say it. The same goes for an unusual gift requests.

The video can be accessed at any time afterwards via an e-mail address and password; or by clicking on the direct link.
From a technology perspective, the site is actually part of a beta platform set up by Ugroupmedia. The company hopes to utilize the patent-pending technology for other concepts in the future, ranging from online advertising to video blogging.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Buy a Beer at the Movies

A Cineplex movie theatre in downtown Toronto has decided to add beer and wine to its list of refreshments movie-goers can sip on while catching the latest flick.

The Varsity VIP theatre, a small, intimate theatre room at Yonge & Bloor, will allow guests to buy up to two alcoholic beverages prior to the movie. The same is planned for an Oakville theatre before the end of the year.

The decision is part of a pilot program that will likely run for a one-year period. But does it make sense?

The participating theatres are typically higher-end locations with lounges that serve alcohol anyway; and tend to attract well to-do adults attending without children. So really, there was no reason alcohol shouldn't have been permitted in these particular theatres all along. But should this program extend to the standard movie theatre? I would have to say no. Theatres are already crowded with rowdy teenagers and young children. Add alcohol to that mix, and you have the potential recipe for disaster.

Sure, you can buy a beer at a sporting event despite the fact that there are rowdy teens and young kids there as well. But a movie is supposed to be a quiet, intense experience. If you want to have a beer or a glass of wine while watching one, do so at home. In my eyes, you'd get an overall more enjoyable experience there anyway! But if you're looking for a night out, the Varsity theatres are quite nice, and offer a like-home experience for a slightly higher price than you'd pay at a "regular" theatre. Now that you can curl up with a glass of wine there as well, the experience could be all the more enjoyable.

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