CES 2012 preview: Ford’s Innovative CEO Alan Mulally

The CES Innovation Power Panel  happens at 9am on January 11 in the Las Vegas Hilton Theater.    The panel will feature three top American CEOs who will discuss the roles that innovation has played in the success of their respective companies.

At the 2009 CES Mulally impressed the crowd with Ford’s technology and forward looking corporate world view.    I asked him then if Ford would be “needing bailout money” and he answered that he didn’t think so.    Impressively, Ford never did take any bailout money.    In fact some sources suggest that Mulally recently had pressure from no less than the President Obama to pull an advertisement that mentioned how the other car makers took bailout money.    The format was  the Ford “press conference” where a Ford buyer mentions he did not want to buy a “bailout” money car.     Here’s more on that issue:   http://www.autoblog.com/2011/09/27/ford-yanks-bailout-ad-amidst-controversy-w-video/




Biographies of the Innovation Panel CEOs at CES 2012 from CES Website.

Ursula Burns, chairman and CEO of Xerox Corporation, has been with Xerox since 1980. She began her career with the company as a mechanical engineering summer intern before working her way up to lead various organizations including Xerox’s global research as well as product development, marketing and delivery. She was named CEO in July 2009 and has since been instrumental in driving the acquisition of Affiliated Computer Services, which has transformed Xerox into the world’s leading enterprise for business process and document management. Burns has been recognized for her leadership by both Fortune and Forbes magazine’s “Most Powerful Women” lists.  Also, under Ursula’s watch Xerox has been named to Bloomberg Businessweek’s “The World’s 25 Most Inventive Companies.”

Lowell McAdam was named president and CEO of Verizon Communications in August 2011, having previously served as the company’s president and COO. He also held key executive positions at Verizon Wireless since its inception in 2000, and built the company into the industry’s leading wireless provider, with the nation’s largest, most reliable wireless voice and 4G broadband data network. Additionally, he has served as vice president of international operations for AirTouch Communications. McAdam currently serves as chairman of the Verizon Wireless Board of Representatives, and on the board of directors of Verizon Communications.

Alan Mulally, president and CEO of Ford Motor Company, joined Ford in 2006, after serving as executive vice president of The Boeing Company and president and chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. He is known for his innovative and focused industry leadership, while working to transform Ford into a lean, global enterprise. He has served as a past president of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and is a former president of its Foundation. Mulally was named Chief Executive Magazine’s “CEO of the Year” in 2011, “Businessperson of the Year” by the readers of Fortune Magazine in 2010, one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2009 and “Person of the Year” in 2006 by Aviation Week magazine.

CES 2010 – Fewer Exhibits but more China?

CES 2010 = fewer exhibits but more China?    I haven’t researched this to know for sure, but I think there’s a larger China presence here at CES than last year, especially from “mainland” companies from Beijing and other cities outside of Hong Kong.     The conference no longer has the large exhibit space at the Sands, making it a bit easier to navigate because there is less need to travel back and forth between the Venetian Sands venue and the Las Vegas Convention Center.

CES 009

Henry Blodget: TV Industry is a Walking Corpse

You can always count on Henry Blodget of  Silicon Alley Insider for provocative industry analysis and today’s post is no exception where he  insists that the TV industry will be suffering the same fate as the print industry in 5-10 years.

I think Blodget offers some good basic trends to watch in the TV market but I’m not as pessimistic because we are certain to see more “convergence power” in the TV sector than we did with print.   Never underestimate the power of luddites and technophobes to influence and even drive TV marketing to some extent, and there are many of them left who have no desire to jump on the computing bandwagon.

This group alone will remain a large market for some time – certainly more than five years.   Also, as celebrities increasingly interact with viewers in multiple venues and niche markets develop to cater to every interest I think TV has as long way to go, though I certainly agree with Blodget that changes are coming and only the flexible and clever may survive.

I think this point in his article is excellent and very true:

As with print-based media, Internet-based distribution generates only a tiny fraction of the revenue and profit that today’s incumbent cable, broadcast, and satellite distribution models do.  As Internet-based distribution gains steam, therefore, most TV industry incumbents will no longer be able to support their existing cost structures.

He predicts the following:

The best content creators will do just fine. Video storytelling won’t go away.  Compared to the people who produced Battlestar Galactica, the Sopranos, and West Wing, etc., the folks who post to YouTube generally suck at it.  So great content creators won’t have to worry about them.

The lousy content creators will disappear. No big loss.  And no big change.

The cable companies will become dumb pipes, and they’ll get disintermediated. We won’t need Brian Roberts to negotiate a deal with the Tennis Channel for us (or, rather, to prevent us from getting the Tennis Channel because of some contract dispute).  We’ll just go direct.

The phone companies will remain dumb pipes.

The wireless companies will become dumber pipes.

The competition between the multiple dumb pipes will eventually, we pray, result in lower prices for consumers for the only thing we will really need: Ubiquitous high-speed Internet access.

Box and device companies will remain box and device companies. Unless Apple somehow creates a new global chokepoint via the iPhone.

Networks that produce live news, sports, and entertainment will offer the content direct to consumers. But they’ll no longer get paid big carriage fees from cable companies.

A few clever online aggregators–YouTube? Hulu? Cable companies? Netflix?–will create nice video portals and build powerful new businesses.   At these portals, you’ll be able to sign up to watch anything in the world on any device you want.  You’ll be able choose among multiple subscription models (monthly, a la carte).  You’ll also have a basic “what’s on” option in case you just want to watch TV.

Some of the most interesting marketing issues of all time are now shaking out in terms of online distribution and advertising.     Literally since the birth of mass media, we’ve come to expect content from heavily capitalized outlets with major advertising programs.    As Blodget notes this *must* change because online distribution and advertising are both very cheap compared to legacy media alternatives.    What will be left when the fat is stripped away?    We can’t know yet, but I have a hunch as consumers we’ll be at least as happy, entertained, and well informed as we are now (though that may not be saying all that much!).

Amazon Kindle 2 to debut Monday

Update:  Here is the Kindle info from Amazon – Amazon Press Release on Kindle 2

Engadget is reporting that the the Amazon Kindle 2 will be announced on Monday with a release date of about February 24th. (Picture from Engadget website but I think it’s an Amazon press photo).

The new Kindle looks a lot better than the first edition, but at a reported price of $359 I’ll be surprised if this takes off to the extent many have predicted. However I certainly would say that based on the very weak Kindle imitations we saw at CES last month Amazon certainly appears poised to have the best in class book reader.

Amazon remains conspicuously silent on sales information for the Kindle leading to what I’m still inclined to think are extraordinary claims by some analysts, but if they really can corner the book reading market maybe the Kindle 2 really will become the new “must have” gadget.

Las Vegas Sun: CES 2009 Attendance Drops Significantly to 110,000

CES 2011 promises much higher attendance as the economy improves and is led in much of USA by technology.    Join us at CES 2011

Reports are still coming in and the official audited numbers are not ready yet, but it appears that attendance at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show CES 2009 was down over 20%, to 110,000 attendees. CES 2008 saw about 130,000 and CES 2007 even more so this does not appear to be an encouraging development for the electronics industry.

The Las Vegas Sun suggests that company expense cutbacks are mostly responsible for the lower attendance.

Is low attendance an indication of trouble yet to come? Unfortunately the answer is probably yes as CES is the world’s most influential electronics show and company cutbacks there are likely to reflect their own perceptions of troubles ahead.

Simcraft Racing Simulator

John will have more later on this topic as he had a chance to test one of the world’s top racing simulators on display at CES by Simcraft but I wanted to get these pictures online .  We had a nice talk with Simcraft’s CEO about his plans for moving forward with this remarkable driving simulation tool.    Rather than the arcade market with its liability challenges he explained that one of  Simcraft’s major projects right now is a contract with the Department of Defense to use the simulators to train drivers for high speed runs when they must avoid IEDs in Iraq and other combat environments.

At $44,000 this is not accessible to most but with a remarkable cage suspension system that gives the driver 3 degrees of motion this really is likely to be the sim of choice for high end drivers who can pony up the cash.

Autoblog has more on this device – easily one of CES’ most impressive demos.

Casio at CES 2009

For live CES 2011 Coverage stay tuned to Technology Report

Casio’s focus at CES 2009 was on their robust new digital camera line.   G4 covered the Casio CES Press Conference at CES.

The most interesting aspects of the new Casio cameras will be high speed photography and effects which will allow regular users to deploy some things only pros could use before such as 60 frame per second sequences in simple cameras and 1200 frame per second high speed video from relatively inexpensive camcorders.

Cntrstg Blog Lounge at Wynn for CES 2009. Thanks!

The fantastic Cntrstg blog lounge at the Wynn during CES 2009 was definitely one of the conference highlights for me.  The event lasted for much of the conference late into the night and provided a fantastic venue for blogging, relaxing, and several good tech presentations.     Cntrstg was along the lines of the Bloghaus in the Bellagio – a great event from the past two CES’s.

Thanks so much to the Cntrstg crew who did an amazing job of keeping folks fed and fueled and to the sponsors of this excellent Blog lounging event:


Disclosure:  Freebies from the blog lounge included beer, great Wynn catered food, a Scooba laptop bag, and a free airline ticket from the American Airlines presentation.

Freeplay’s Humanitarian devices – remote technologies for great causes

One of my *favorite* companies at CES was Freeplay with several innovative humanitarian technology solutions as well as their innovative line of self-powered lanterns, radios, and more.

As part of their Foundation Work, Freeplay is building cheap, self powered devices for remote medicine in developing world and another device to charge One Laptop Project computers.   Below are three such devices – all self powered.    Emergency Radio, One Laptop Per Child Power crank (I’m not clear if this is better than the one built into those devices but I think it’s to be used for OLPC plus other devices), and one of the best innovations at CES 2009 which is an inexpensive fetal heart monitor to be used by nurses and doctors in the field to help lower infant mortality.    Freeplay’s work in this field will help save thousands of lives very cheaply because the lack of such medical data in the field is a key reason for the high mortality rates in the developing world.

CES 2009 Saturday

John and I are prowling the floors at CES 2009 this afternoon and we’ve managed to bump into some interesting technologies as well as more than a few clever marketing pitches.   The Hoover Reports economic analyst folks have a great looking Robot roaming the floors, but it turned out it is controlled by a human operator standing nearby and appears to have no to very limited autonomy.    One of last year’s incredible technologies was the Darpa Autonomous Vehicle which drives itself, dodging pedestrians and traffic based on the software with no human control – not sure if Darpa is here this year or not.

A vehicle technology that really impressed us today was the Simcraft full motion simulator.   John tested it out and we’ll have pictures soon, but Simcraft’s simulator offers 3 degrees of freedom thanks to a strong steel frame system combined with electric servo motors.     Three monitors on the front provide a wrap around visual of the track and John was very impressed with the realism.     At $44,000 this is not the best Anniversary gift for your wife but for the very high end consumer market and (I think far more importantly) military and training markets this represents a lot of potential cost savings over real vehicles.    We spoke with Simcraft’s CTO Sean MacDonald who indicated they are now working with Dept of Defense on training projects for combat vehicles.     More and pictures later….

Also impressive was a new slim format notebook coming up from ASUS with a raised keyboard that allows low/no fan thanks to increased air flow between the keys and the CPU.   The unit was the most stylish of all the netbooks I’ve seen so far.   We spoke with Daniel Alenquer of the Asus design team who should be very proud of bringing low cost form to the high function of the many new ASUS models.  Engadget has a good report on what most will probably agree is the most stylish notebook design of the show: http://www.engadget.com/2009/01/10/video-asus-airo-laptop-with-amazing-sliding-keyboard/