The Most Media Impactful CES 2018 Product Releases

Executive Summary:

  • Smart Displays – Google competing with Amazon Echo Show through hardware partnerships
  • TVs – Samsung and LG taking TV tech next level
  • Smartphones – Huawei shows new models

What it Means:

  • Smart Displays – Not clear consumer wants them, but if so, could become dominant video interphase
  • TVs – cool TVs are good for the PayTV bundle
  • Smartphones – with carrier partnership, could Huawei help Android take iOS market share?


1. Smart Displays

Amazon introduced the world to the smart display with its Echo Show in May, 2017 as part of its Alexa enabled device family. While Alexa has been an undisputed massive hit, it’s unclear that the Echo Show has really taken off with consumers. The greatest interest the Echo Show has generated has been over the controversy of YouTube pulling support of the device in December 2017:



Whether the smart devices are approaching product / market fit or not, Google made it clear that they’re jumping on board at CES. In an interesting twist, Google is taking the Android, hardware partnership, tactic to smart displays rather than staying true to the integrated hardware approach of the rest of the Google Home line.

Two Google Assistant enabled smart displays partnerships were announced at CES:



There are two models: an 8-inch version, and a larger 10-inch model. The platform itself is a simple version of the Google Assistant that responds to “Hey, Google” and does all the Assistant stuff you’d expect…There’s Duo video calling support, Google Maps, YouTube playback, and even Google Photos. (The Verge)

JBL Link View Smart Display


While we love the industrial design of Lenovo’s model, JBL’s—which appears to be based on its Link 300 speaker—looks like it will offer better audio, making it a flexible home entertainment and home control center. (PC Mag)

What this Means for Media Companies:

I have a feeling that we’ll be hearing a lot about smart displays in 2018. To make the arena even more interest, Facebook is rumored to be announcing their own smart display at their developer conference this year (The Verge).

Big Tech’s agenda to push these devices is clear – video enabled devices in consumers’ homes gives these companies all of the advantages of owning the video content interphase:

  1. Higher reach and conversion rates of video services (Prime Video, YouTube TV, FB Watch)
  2. Major influence on content discovery
  3. Nearly complete access to viewer behavior and preference data
  4. Affiliate revenue from other OTT services offered through the platform

Side note – Google’s motivation for removing YouTube support from Amazon’s Echo Show just became much more clear (The Verge)

The question remaining – do consumers want smart displays?

Content providers should keep a close watch on these devices’ traction. If they ever do take off, even more power will flow into the hands of the device OS owners and content providers will be pressured to conform to the device demands and design.


 2. TVs

On the topic of video viewing devices, the television just got a bit cooler at CES. Here are two product announcements that made waves:

The Wall by Samsung


Samsung’s new – and the first-ever – modular MicroLED TV promises to put the current OLED standard in its place. At 146 inches diagonally, The Wall is a TV that engulfs your entire field of view with gorgeous, visually stunning images that rival what we’ve seen on OLED screens. (TechRadar)

LG Rollable OLED TV


Paper-thin screens you can simply roll up have been futuristic fantasies for years. That won’t likely change anytime soon, but LG Display is pushing the technology a bit closer to reality with its 65-inch rollable OLED screen. This OLED panel rolls up like a poster and can be unspooled into a very flat panel TV. At 65 inches of 4K resolution, it’s the largest, most advanced rollable screen yet. (PC Mag)

What this Means for Media Companies:

Legacy video content companies should root for the television because the most accessible video content on the television is the traditional TV bundle.

Also, an interesting trend in the age of digital video adoption is viewers preference to consume video content on the mobile devices (Media Post). Upgrades like these CES product announcements could give the traditional television a boost of relevance in the digital future.

Consumers’ video device preferences will have huge implications on the video content gatekeepers of the future and therefore, the future partners of content providers.


3. Smartphones

Leading Chinese smartphone maker, Huawei, announced a couple of praised products as it attempts to continue its global growth momentum into the U.S.

Mate 10 Pro


Huawei’s best phone yet is at last debuting in the US, and is indisputably the most impressive phone on the CES 2018 show floor. Not only is the Huawei Mate 10 Pro the most impressive device we’ve seen from Huawei to date, it’s also one of the most impressive flagships currently on the market, undercutting the competition while offering more in some key areas. (TechRadar)

Honor View 10


Honor’s View 10 sets the bar for value. Huawei’s low-cost spinoff brand is bringing a 6-inch phone with tons of RAM and storage, an AI-enhanced camera, and a flagship-level Kirin 970 processor to the US for less than $500—that undercuts the OnePlus 5T by at least $30, and it’s about half the price of Huawei’s own Mate 10 Pro. Honor has sold great $200 phones in the US for a few years now, and this device pushes its market up to people who aren’t looking to make compromises. (PC MAG)

What this Means for Media Companies:

While Huawei does sell its smartphones in the US, it does so without the support of major carrier partners. For the moment, they’ll be continuing on this track in the U.S. as their rumored partnerships with AT&T and Verizon fell through (CRN).

If Huawei is able to develop U.S. carrier partnerships, its global expansion track record suggests they could become real competitors. Huawei smartphone are operated by Android, therefore any market share they could take from the iPhone would be a win for Google, and Google Play.


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