We covered the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), exploring trends in social media as relate to Consumer Electronics (CE). CES is the largest trade show on the planet, with over 100,000 attendees, an unending stream of newsworthy announcements and an unrivaled event party scene in Las Vegas. When reflecting back upon the week, it jumps out at us that there is an amazing level of interest the consumer electronics industry about Facebook. Generally, we were impressed with the amount of widgets and social network feeds that now reach CE devices. Big names like Yahoo!, MySpace and Twitter were active with large CE brands.
Facebook, however, seems to be holding back. Chumby and AMD were the only companies we found who integrated applications with Facebook. However, they did so via open platform APIs and not explicit business and technical partnerships.
Consumer Electronics Brands Seek Deals With Facebook
Large brands like Intel, Toshiba and AMD asked us for introductions to people we know at Facebook. Often, executives gave us duplicates of their cards – seemingly hoping that we would hand it to the appropriate Facebook deal maker later that afternoon. We found this highly unusual behavior for large companies who are used to deals chasing them. The CES show itself is embracing social media in a big way, using a Facebook fan page and a Twitter feed to create communities of thousands around the event. Facebook did not exhibit at CES this year, or even reup the large, plush meeting room in the Venetian it had at CES 2008.
Microsoft’s Facebook Access
Microsoft of course, is the exception. Microsoft announced a large Facebook deal during Steve Balmer’s keynote speech – which we live blogged – but that’s the kind of access $240 million and a deep search partnership will get you.
Internet Connected Consumer Electronics
Consumer electronics are becoming more and more IP-connected. CE devices like TVs and DVD players now have the Internet and communication abilities of the PCs and mobile phones that they have come to share the CES show floor with in recent years.
New Consumer Electronics Capabilities
New Consumer Electronics capabilities include:
Ethernet ports and/orWiFi capabilities connect CE devices into home networking environments and onto the Internet via consumers’ ISP accounts.
CE devices have enhanced processing capabilities that have progressed well beyond single purpose chips (ei for TV display).
CE devices come with either a flash drive or hard disk that allows consumers to store data and media, as well as enabling the device to run web applications.
Consumer Electronics Widgets and Web Services
Several CE companies are integrating widget style connectivity into their devices. TV makers like Samsung, Sharp, Toshiba and Panasonic all rolled out demos of Internet connected TVs that bring social features like friend updates and widgetized web content via web service APIs directly to the TV screen. Hooman Radfar of Clearspring explained during his Digital Hollywood panel that CE manufactures struggle with the need to create a web like experience without being completely disintermediated by browser based access to the general Internet. As a result, most CE device makers are launching widget services that largely just provide 1) syndicated web information, 2) tightly controlled interactivity and 3) slimmed down social networking features. Further, all the major CE companies are yet to launch widget enabled devices – simply announcing plans and showing demos at CES.
Chumby Leads the CE Pack
Chumby Industries was the only company we found shipping live devices that integrated widgets, social media and Facebook. Chumby provides personalized Internet content to connected screens, including its own device and consumer electronics enabled by Broadcom chips. Chumby’s Facebook widget allows you to see your News Feed on your alarm clock, digital picture frame and television. Chumby’s Linux-based, open source CE platform is truly on the cutting edge of consumer electronics and social media.
Chumby Widget Platform
Chumby created a third party application developer platform that allows anyone to create Flash based apps that will run within its network. Chumby creates an extremely rich experience for its consumer electronics devices in the same way as the Facebook Platform does for developers.
AMD Makes Facebook Photos Easy
AMD gave All Facebook a demo of its Facebook application that optimizes the Facebook photo experience. AMD Fusion Media Explorer provides one click functionality that allows users to 1) upload all their photos from their desktop to Facebook, 2) download all of their friends photos in one click and 3) search through all of their media stored in the application’s Facebook section (i.e. I can instantly find all my photos tagged Nick O’Neil from my profile and all photos from his profile). AMD also created a fast, graphically rich interface for reviewing photos 100′s at a time that may make this the killer app on the desktop for Facebook users.
Learning About Consumer Electronics and Social Media
Stay tuned for some consumer electronics related posts on All Facebook and the SocialTimes discussing consumer electronics trends as relate to social media. We see this as the next frontier in social networking and for Facebook. Also, we enjoyed meeting many readers of All Facebook at CES, including Whirlpool’s Communications and Public Affairs team and the bloggers and editors of Gadetell – see you next year!
Access the All Facebook Community
If you are a CE vendor seeking a relationship with Facebook, social media companies or start ups, please post your interest as a comment to this blog post below … perhaps taking your first plunge into the read/write web and experiencing the power of social media.