Friday, January 7, 2011

The CES Index

Like many of my technical colleagues, I have been following the Consumer Electronics Show for new and cool gadgets. Meanwhile, I have been asked to offer some consulting advice on Near Field Communication (NFC).
One of the factors in the adoption of NFC will be the number of devices being manufactured with an NFC chip. You also have to have enough readers, and merchants, and banks, and service providers, and credit card companies. Lots of factors involved in overall adoption.
But I wanted to check on any announcements or exhibitors at CES that was focused on NFC so off I went and tried a search
Only 9 results with all but one being a general press release on their TechZones. So not lots of focus on NFC solutions at CES this year.

Several years ago when I was a seminar instructor, students would often ask me about the popularity of different programming languages, operating systems, hardware platforms etc. I told them about the Barnes&Noble index. Go to your Barnes&Noble and look at the bookshelves. Is Java more popular then C++? How about Visual Basic? Just measure the number of shelf feet dedicated to a topic to measure its relative importance to the industry.
Would a CES index apply in giving a quick and dirty forecast of industry trends? So I tried to search on a bunch of keywords and here are the results. For any given category I took the lowest absolute result and used that as the denominator to normalize the index. I also compared the CES Index with the relative search frequency as reported by Google Trends over the last thirty days.

Popular Vendors

Lots of Microsoft at CES. Specifically there were 1370 search results and only 5 for RIM. So the CES Index is 1370/5 = 274.  In my opinion this is a combination of actual use of Microsoft products by many exhibitors plus the fact that Microsoft outspent many other companies at CES. How else do they get Mr Ballmer to be the keynote speaker?

OS Platforms

The Google Trends (red) for the last 30 days did not have a very high volume of searches for Windows Mobile relative to the other OS'. General Windows was strong at CES and also on the web. What surprises me in this data set is the relatively weak showing of Android at CES.

Service Providers

Verizon was a big player at CES and for internet searches in general.


At both CES and on Google Trends, HSPA+ is not really a focus. 3G continues to dominate with a close second on the emerging 4G. I think LTE was more prevalent at CES specifically because of the Verizon announcements.

Emerging Techs

Finally, what drove me to this interesting exercise, NFC like RFID has relatively low occurences (I would have not expected RFID to be discussed much at CES). Cloud Computing is big, but the hot tech of the show and the month is Tablets.

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