CES 2013 Consumer Social Analysis

Last week, I flew to Las Vegas to attend CES with my colleague, Jani Virtanen. With over 150,000 attendees, CES brought together innovators from all around the world to showcase new consumer products and discuss marketplace shifts. Jani and I explored crammed exhibit rooms, sat in on speaker sessions and attended dynamic keynote panels.

My favorite keynote featured will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas speaking alongside other young entrepreneurs. The self-described “pop-thropologist” — citing a mix of pop psychology and anthropology for his creative product ideas — shared anecdotes from his travels, and described his transition from pop singer to electronic pioneer.

Overall, CES boasts a unique culture of tantalizing technologies and talented, passionate individuals from many niche and mass-market industry players. Jani and I had the pleasure of meeting many of these folks, who weren’t reluctant to share their creative ideas for getting new inventions into the hands of consumers.

In my opinion, one of the most rewarding, and fun, elements of the show is connecting with friends in the industry and meeting innovators. I was glad to catch up with one of my friends from college, Dan Gnecco, over lunch. Dan is a co-founder of the Mark Cuban-funded startup, MOVL, which designs TV apps. We met up at the DISH Network booth where he gave me a fantastic live demo of Kontrol TV, his company’s new multi-device platform allowing users to access Smart TV applications from a second screen. TV innovation proved to be a major theme at CES this year, which I explore more deeply later in this post.

My personal reactions to some of the new products at CES evoked a variety of emotions: awe, anticipation, purchase intent—and, in some cases, even skepticism.

Since I work for a leading provider of social intelligence, I wondered if my live reactions to these technologies are similar to the thousands of consumers who did not attend CES, and instead tuned into these press announcements via the Web.

I can’t possibly analyze reactions the many innovative products at CES. Instead, I’ll explore two of the products that I found most interesting at the show: Audi’s Self-Driving Car and 4K vs. OLED TVs. Using the Crimson Hexagon ForSight platform, we evaluated the online conversation to determine how the public reacted to these product debuts.

Audi Self-Driving Car

Soon, valet parking will be a thing of the past. Audi announced the prototype of a self-driving car to compete with Google’s highly anticipated autonomous car. With the touch of an app, Audi’s car can find a parking spot, and even come pick you up at the door. Audi filmed a demonstration at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Las Vegas. Audi is also developing a self-piloting traffic jam mode, during which time the vehicle will accelerate and stop during rough traffic patches—all on its own.

We measured over 3,600 relevant opinions about Audi’s self-driving technology on Twitter over a 6-day time period. The majority of the conversation discussed the piloted parking feature (57%), while 43% discussed piloted driving. Another 23% specifically cited how impressed they were by the new features. And in the wake of Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, many even likened this technology to that of the caped crusader: “Holy Toledo Robin–The #Batmobile is real: Audi’s self-driving car picks you up on command.

Social Analysis of Audi Self Driving Car

Interestingly, 15% expressed concerns about Audi’s auto-parking feature, questioning both the authenticity of the demo environment and whether they would trust this feature in real-life. If I let my new Audi self-park, should I have my Geico rep on speed dial?


4K vs OLED social analysis

Now let’s enter the 4K vs. OLED debate. An interesting article I read asked which technology is most “drool-worthy”? I like that description. One thing I’d like to point out, however, is that 4K is a resolution (it has nearly four times as many horizontal pixels than standard 1080p resolution), whereas OLED is a type of display technology. I anticipate a format war will take place in the short-term. But how might it pan out?

Using the same time frame, we analyzed 2,600 relevant opinions on Twitter about 4K and OLED Looking at the 4K and OLED technologies across the brands represented at CES (LG, Samsung and Sony, to name a few), we found that 4K dominated the conversation at 70%. Driving this dialogue, were consumers discussing the amazing display (24%) and the smart engineering required to achieve this high resolution (15%). Also, 9% expressed anticipation and excitement to have this display resolution in new mobile devices.

OLED represented 30% of the conversation. In comparison to 4K, only 2% cited the amazing display of OLEDs and 7% discussed the smart engineering behind this technology. Additionally, only 3% were excited for new mobile offerings.

The largest concern, as expressed by consumers, with both of these technologies was price: 8% believe the technologies are just too expensive at present. I am inclined to agree. I think it’s safe to say that TVs costing upwards $10,000 (in some cases, well over $10,000) are a tad out of the price range for most. But, I’m excited for the future—a future with economies of scale.

At Crimson Hexagon, we will continue to track the conversations around these new products over time and quantify the impact of subsequent events and releases on aggregate consumer social analysis. For me, I look forward to participating in more technology conferences in 2013 and learning about all of the incredible new electronics to add to my wish list. Thank you, CES.

What do you think about these new consumer technologies? Post your comments below or share your opinion on Twitter!