CEA Economist Outlines ‘Post-Smartphone Era’ at ETC Event

Shawn DuBravac, chief economist and director of research for the Consumer Electronics Association, set the stage for the upcoming 2015 CES with a special briefing on December 4 for ETC members. DuBravac placed his remarks within the context of more than a century of innovation beginning with the inventions of recording, radio and telephone transmission. “Five key pillars drive innovation today,” he said. “Ubiquitous computing, an explosion of devices, universal connectivity, access to storage, and embedded sensors.”

connectionsOn the floor at CES and throughout its more than 2 million square feet of exhibit area, DuBravac predicts these five pillars will manifest with a prevalence of devices, services and technology that leverage “digitization, connectivity and sensorization.”

Speaking to an entertainment industry audience, he wondered how these emerging technologies might impact storytelling, especially when interaction with devices, by voice or gestural control, becomes more natural and intuitive.

CEA predicts four trends will dominate CES 2015: digitization of our physical space, relative and contextual computing, The Internet of Me, and fragmented innovation. CEA has presented these themes at CES Unveiled events around the world.

All of this activity is happening amidst what DuBravac considers the unintended consequence of smartphones and tablets now serving as hub devices. “The smartphone is now the viewfinder for your digital life,” he stated.

Today, more than 65 percent of time spent on cell phones is spent doing other activities beside a phone call. DuBravac calls this the “Post-Smartphone Era” and it is putting pressure on carriers to reconsider the legacy business model of telephony, measured in minutes and data charges, and adjust to more closely reflect customer behavior, usage and demand.

“The Age of Algorithms” is next, said DuBravac as he suggested a rise in the combination of connected devices, sensors, and curated services.

As examples, he suggested that insurance companies might encourage drivers to allow tracking of their driving data in exchange for more favorable rates. Translucent screens may seem unnecessary to the average person, but imagine if it was part of a glass display case in a supermarket or store window enabling dynamic pricing or advertising. Entertainment services could base recommendations on an individual’s state of being.

“In an age of algorithms, context is key and data becomes the new currency,” he noted.

CES exhibit areas such as Eureka Park provide a glimpse into the future. “We’ve spent the past decade figuring out what is technically possible,” he said. “Now we are moving to an era where we are experimenting with what is commercially viable.”

The 2015 International CES runs January 6-9 in Las Vegas. Live coverage by ETC begins on Sunday, January 4 when DuBravac opens the CES media briefing with his annual report on the State of the Industry.