Jason Stipp: I'm Jason Stipp for Morningstar, and welcome to the Friday Five.
Morningstar markets editor Jeremy Glaser is out in Las Vegas covering the Consumer Electronics Show. He has five key takeaways from the show for us today.
Jeremy, I hope you're having a good time at CES.
Jeremy Glaser: Well, Jason, I'm sorry that you can't be here. But I did find five things pretty surprising here at the Consumer Electronics Show. The first was; how tablets are being used pretty differently; how the three screens turn out to be more similar than different; the growth in China; how your remote might be thrown out of the window; and finally, the final barrier to 3-D adoption may have been lifted.
Stipp: So, Jeremy, in our CES preview video, you talked about the three things you're going to be looking for: tablets, tablets and more tablets. So what do you have to share with us on the tablet front?
Glaser: Before the show, I was pretty sure that tablets were going to be a big story. But the thing that was somewhat surprising was that tablets are not just being used by consumers, but they are making a really big push into the enterprise market, and to a lot of other unusual markets.
We've seen a number of tablets that are really geared directly towards businesses, and a lot of the consumer devices are being used by businesses way more that I think any of the manufacturers even suspected.
We also saw some products like a Blood Pressure Monitor that connects to your iPad so that you'll be able to get that kind of data directly onto that device.
I think that we wondered if the tablets was here to stay. I think it clearly is, because a lot of these uses were not envisioned, but once people got their hands on it, they really enjoyed using it.
Stipp: Jeremy before you left, we also talked about the proliferation of devices, the PC, the notebook, the mobile device. Do all these things still have a place in consumer homes?
Glaser: There's been a lot of talk for years about the three screens: that you have a mobile phone, you have your laptop or desktop PC, and your regular TV--and those are your three big screens.
And what we're seeing at this show is that consumers not only are demanding all three screens, but that they have pretty similar capabilities across them. People want to be able to edit a Word document on the go on a mobile phone, while doing the same thing on a computer, while also being able to access the Internet on their TV.
Instead of having different use cases for all three of those devices and all three of those screens, consumers seem to be demanding, and companies seem to be giving them, the capabilities across all three.
And that's leading to a race to get faster processors that are smaller to go into smartphones, to connect TVs, to make your computer more media-friendly to make it easier to get that TV media onto your computer. I think there is going to be convergence to devices, different sizes, same types of ideas.
Stipp: Jeremy, in 2010 we saw here in the U.S. that there was still a lot of demand for consumer electronics, but there is an area of the world where consumer-electronic makers probably are focusing even more of their attention right now.Read Full Transcript
Glaser: We all know that China is growing very quickly, and that they did pretty well during the recession. But looking at some of the data about just how well China did: They were the only region that didn't go into negative consumer electronic sales in 2009. They had a really robust 2010 coming out of it, and are projected to have an even better 2011.
It's really incredible the kind of demand that there is among Chinese consumers for all sorts of devices, from smartphones, to basic cellular phones, to TVs, to other sorts of appliances. There is a lot of demand out there. And I think that most companies are focusing a lot of their efforts on the Chinese market. They want the latest and greatest, they want those portable devices, they want the best notebook, they want the best netbook. And I think ... a story that's going to be going on for a while, but just surprising how big of a magnitude that opportunity really is.
Stipp: Jeremy, the remote control might have been the highlight of the 1949 Consumer Electronics Show. But you found here at the 2011 show that the remote control's future is a little bit uncertain?
Glaser: The remote control has been with us for a very long time, and it looks like a lot of consumer electronics firms are finally getting around to getting rid of it. And we saw two big things that really could make the remote obsolete in the few years.
The first is the usage of the smartphone or the tablet as a way to control the TV. This already happens with a number of devices, but it's becoming more prevalent. You'll be able to go on your iPhone, your Android device and control what's happening on your television.
You could even watch bits of your programming on the smartphones. If you need to get up and go to the kitchen, you won't miss the action in the game or you won't have to pause for everyone else in the room while you go and get a soda from the fridge.
I think this is something that's very consumer-friendly. People tend to have those smartphones, those tablets with them anyway when they are watching TV. It makes more sense--there are so many buttons on the modern remote control that having the touchscreen makes it a lot easier to navigate. I think that's a big plus.
The other thing we saw from Microsoft is Microsoft Kinect, which is part of their Xbox 360 gaming platform. And not only does this let you do a lot of interesting gaming, it let you to control the Xbox interface, and coming soon the Netflix and the Hulu Plus interface, just with your hands.
So, if you make a motion across the screen, you can move a cursor and you are able to select the movie that you want, select the TV show, and get to the content that you really need.
So I think that's really something that could make the remote less useful for a lot of people.
Stipp: Jeremy, going into the show, I know that you had some doubts about 3D and 3D televisions. Has anything changed your mind on that front?
Glaser: Jason, I know you are well aware that I am a 3D skeptic, but after seeing the new designer 3D frames that Samsung came out with today, I think they are really going to push people over the edge. I mean, they are only one ounce, but, well, you still look pretty ridiculous.
You know I think that this idea that there is going to be a mass adoption of 3D still is not something that was able to surprise me at the show. Certainly, there were some adoption, a million units were sold last year, and they are expecting substantially more next year, but people just see it as an add-on. It's added in the TV, they get it, and they don't mind having it. The content is not there. It doesn't look like the mass adoption is going to happen, even if you have some surprisingly nice glasses for it no matter what it looks like.
Stipp: Well, Jeremy, I can only see you in 2D from here, I'm afraid that's just going to have to be good enough for this week. Thanks for joining me.
Glaser: Jason, it's always my pleasure.
Stipp: For Morningstar, I'm Jason Stipp. Thanks for watching.