For those who have never been a good part of the fun of the Consumer Electronics Show is finding the balance between practicality and fantasy. Are we seeing a new suit that fits or the Emperors New Clothes? Who will be back next year, whose super cool names were just that; style trumping substance.
From a sports business perspective, walking the floor at both the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Sands, it became clear that some of the themes we have been looking at as emerging are well…emerging and are certainly not pretending to be lost in the shuffle. For example, where is Marc Cuban going?
“I am investing everything around AI. Period. If you’re an #entrepreneur & if you don’t know #AI, then you’re the equivalent of somebody in 1999 saying, I’m sure this internet thing will be okay but I don’t give a sh*t.”
The ones that took up the most space included areas like
Audio: It’s not just Beats By Dre any more; now there are training systems designed to provide audio to match ones workout mood in stages, the again help one sleep, to better perform at work and perhaps most importantly, to solve sound quality and crispness in everything from wireless headsets to home theaters to cars to stadia. We can get amazing video, but marrying that video to pristine sound…which in many cases is even more powerful…is becoming a smart priority.
Gaming: We know all about esports and its buzz for the last few years, but the growth of casual gaming, and all the tools that can go with it, seems to be getting more and more pervasive. Case in point; amidst all their 8K video screens folding into closets were curved screens that LG was touting; and the array was tied to some casual racing games. While it didn’t seem that strange to see LG screens being used for gaming, what was stunning was the INCREASE in interest for high end LG screens over the past four years. It was said that four years ago the inquiries into the company were about 20 percent of asks about high end gaming screens, and last year it was 80 percent.
Lop on to that the new dual screen phones that most companies are now touting; they fold into a book and you can move images and email and whatever else you need, from one side to the other by dragging across, giving you the ability to multitask. For the gamer, a quick switch of the screen angle creates a key board and a high resolution screen for one to play on a phone, a big step up for the engaged player for everything from FORTNITE to Candy Crush. Gaming in a high end environment, be it at home or on the commute, is becoming more and more pervasive and inclusionary, and the; large manufacturers are seizing a very practical opportunity that used to fall just to console specific companies.
Sleepfulness: Now more than ever its about sleep and mindfulness. How to sleep, what we do when we sleep, where we sleep, what we listen to when we sleep, what we wear when we sleep, what we eat when we aren’t sleeping and when and on and on, dominated a lot of the floor. Personally I’d rather be awake and moving but that’s just me.
Robotics: Robots, some programming with AI features, some that will help with environmental sciences, were everywhere and smarter than ever before. Also along those lines is a growing list of companies deeper involved in competitive robotics than ever before. The use of STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) continues to be more pervasive than ever before as a healthy and engaged way to keep young people motivated, attentive and moving forward in an environment where screens have made us all more and more distant.
Wearables: The gadget craze is still there and you could not go more than 20 feet without someone asking you about an app download, but the ties to data usage…personal data usage…everything from chips embedded in clothes to thinner multifunction bracelets…are more affordable, more accurate and more powerful than ever before.
While that was all on the crowded floors of the convention centers, there were also the smaller events to learn from.
Case in point on Tuesday. I got to stop by a little catch up on all things Drone Racing League with founder and CEO Nick Horbaczewski. I have seen and been around DRL almost since the start, and while it was great to hear about some of the updates, it was even more interesting to hear about how the brand has evolved and adapted into their next stage of growth.
We live in a world where buzz sometimes outdistances substance, and over the years DRL has graduated from the hip and cool disruptive startup into the licensing and tech event business that is continues to be today, on a global scale. The lessons pointed out in the short talk gave some great insight into audience, brand growth and engagement as a startup goes from concept and launch to larger engagement for the long term.
“Walk the road to cultural relevance.”
One of the key elements of emerging storytelling for a brand is to move from being outside the norm to active conversations that are beyond your actual control. Having a brand, or a sport or an idea or a product, cross over into popular culture acceptance is not predictable or easy to do, but it is an amazing next step that shows all the work that has gone into sculpting a vision into a product has authentically moved forward.
There was a time when we were at the WTA Tour when on Halloween, three light skinned young ladies showed up at our door dressed as Venus and Serena Williams. Tennis racquets, outfits, beads in hair and all. That’s when we realized we had crossed over into popular culture beyond people watching tennis. Horbaczewski pointed out a similar experience for DRL; one that wasn’t planned and came to him from a family member who happened to be watching Jeopardy. There was a clue and an answer from Alex Trebeck; and it wasn’t about esports or gaming; it was about the Drone Racing League. The crossover to relevance was continuing to form by a third party validation of a really good idea.
The other key jump, he pointed out, was how fans were incorporating aspects of DRL into their daily routines. Orders for DRL merch, random mentions in TV show scripts, even fan mail from young people who had begun watching were all building a cultural currency for a business that most had never even experience first hand yet. They had seen and followed on broadcast partners and on whatever devices they chose, and now they wanted to increase their fandom and following by wanting more; the “traditional aspects” than most whop follow legacy sports take for granted. Relevance beyond just watching a race had been established.
Now cultural relevance doesn’t always equate to business success. WeWork certainly found its way into the cultural lexicon, and we have seen that glorious collapse, and I’m not sure how much all those associated with “Jersey Shore” are running thriving businesses these days. Striking the balance and leveraging one side off the other is tricky, but DRL seems like they have struck a solid business model as a tech company tied to events with a growing fan base that fits into a world of automation and fascination with all things futuristic.
There certainly was time when DRL had to shout to make sure they were heard above the din of all those properties vying for attention as a startup. Now that they have evolved to a next step of business, the shouting seems to be happening by their devotees, and that’s a good thing.
Once again CES was all about looking forward into a future that can be fun, engaged, exciting and certainly challenging. Walking the road of business and cultural relevance is probably the desire of many who took to the convention center floors. How many will find it in the future can actually look back to an old entrepreneur for some words of wisdom…
“Moderation In All Things.”
I bet Ben Franklin would enjoy CES; he certainly would have loved Drone Racing, a company which embodies many of the elements those going forward from Las Vegas this week could learn from.
Adapt, learn and keep flying forward.
Quite a week.
via Sports Marketing & PR Roundup http://joefavorito.com
January 12, 2020 at 11:36AM