Dave Taylor: One of the most interesting things about attending the 2006 International Consumer Electronics Show is seeing the increasing speed at which technologies are becoming commodities in this space. Technologies that even a few years ago were extraordinary state-of-the-art are now just another ho-hum technology that every company in the world produces.
A great example of this is 50-75-inch high definition plasma television sets: last time I checked this product segment there were really only four or five credible vendors, all the biggesst electronic firms: Sony
, etc. This year at CES, however, there were at least twenty
different hi-def plasma vendors offering devices that are all gorgeous, all vibrant, all with good industrial design, and all, ultimately, indifferentiatable from each other, and some of these companies I bet you’ve never even heard of.
That, of course, is the very definition of a commodity: when it’s impossible to differentiate between vendor offerings based on capabilities. IBM exec Linda Sanford and I just wrote a book about this topic, Let Go To Grow, so this is a subject near to my heart and, frankly, one that I think is quite important to the long-term economic health of our country.
So what else here at CES has clearly become a commodity?
USB flash drives: They’re such commodities now that at least fifteen different companies were handing them out as digital press kits, and some of them are clearly custom builds: Lexar
handed out a 63MB flash drive press kit, a size that isn’t even available on the common market.
Bluetooth: So common now and presumably so simple to implement that at least 100 vendors from countries around the world are offering bluetooth headphones, bluetooth speakers, bluetooth car interfaces, bluetooth-based Internet terminals and lots of other devices, uses for this short-range low-security communications protocol.