Nearly 2 million square feet of exhibition space showcasing over 3,000 global multinationals’ array of gadgets can make any company feel like a small fish swimming in a sea of giants. However, the 7digital list of partners showcasing new devices with music powered by 7digital’s API was truly impressive at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show. 7digital is proud to count Microsoft, Pure, HP, Toshiba, HTC, Samsung, Sonos, Pioneer, BlackBerry and QNX among our key consumer electronics partners – all of whom continue to roll out new and improved devices.
We work around the clock to build this network and keep our set of music rights and technology current with the latest and greatest trends and consumer needs. At CES the reality and grandeur of our dance card is inspiring to witness as the throngs of consumers pass through the massive show floor to try out the tablets, phones, connected TVs, wireless systems and PCs with our API in the background. This year we had six people at CES, running around from one meeting to the next in suites and the convention hall. Here are their observations of key trends.
1. The Importance of Music
No matter how great the chips, design, or touch screen perform, if a device isn’t entertaining and useful, it’s not going to succeed. While each CE company may have a different strategy, it is apparent that music is a core requirement in all connected devices. There is something for everyone with music, and it makes each device shine.
2. Consumers Want Ease of Use and Interoperability
The consumer is king and they want to try and buy new devices at will. The proposition that core functionality is gated off from one operating system to another doesn’t make sense and will lead to disappointment after the all-important box is opened. We believe the same thing is true for a user’s music collection, so we aim to give consumers access to music across all platforms and all connected devices.
3. Vertical vs Horizontal
Our friends in Cupertino set the bar for hardware, software and content integration but they’ve done it in a vertical stack. If you roam outside of that suite of devices, the experience breaks down. Very few companies can or WANT to take this approach, and a core trend we saw in every corner of the CES show floor is partnerships and API integrations that allow for fertile collaborations that enable great experiences across devices and platforms in a horizontal approach. The pace of change in the market is overwhelming, and we hear new music business models pitched to us on a daily basis – the horizontal strategy also allows for partners to move more independently amidst constant change.
Vickie Nauman, President of 7digital North America has been going to CES for years and on behalf of 7digital for the past 3 years. She comments, “it is amazing each year to see all the companies showing their take on a new unique consumer electronics product. It can range from anything such as robotic cats to fridges that can talk, however, it is growing much more apparent that having music run through your product changes the dimension of it completely. Music makes your device instantly relevant to your consumer base. ”
4. 2013 Looks to Be a Big Year
Another key observation from the 7digital crew is that it’s not only the CE companies that are coming out of their shell with a music strategy but also digital media publications and destinations, brands, big box retailers, specialty retailers, radio streaming companies and even chip manufacturers. The common thread is music helps everyone connect to and grow their user base.
Vickie comments, “many of these companies have been on the fence for years, contemplating the right way to enter into music while watching the industry and consumption patterns change at an unparalleled fast pace. They’ve pondered business models and debated whether to partner, build or buy. It’s clear they want to move forward with a smart, strategic company – and this means solutions like 7digital’s API and partner approach are increasingly relevant – the digital music switch is being flipped on all over CES and it is an exciting time.”
5. The Connected Car is In the Fast Lane
People love their cars, want music at the (safe) touch of a button, and we had a lot of fun wandering through the auto show floor. We also were invited to present our custom app made for the Pioneer in car sound system and spent several days positioned at the Pioneer booth to demo the 7digital/Pioneer application. 7digital’s VP of Global Marketing Kelaine Blades spent time at the Pioneer booth and comments, “it was amazing to talk to such a steady flow of users and repeatedly try to explain this intricate layer of access and deep wiring of technology and content in a way that makes it sound simple. When two companies like Pioneer and 7digital work together, they can give the user a good experience in a natural listening environment, and that means music in the car.”
Another example we were delighted by was a walk through the QNX booth, where the 7digital integration for connected cars was given prime placement.
It was an amazing year at CES for us! Having a team on deck running around to meetings was great and we look forward to next year where we hope to be able to show even more interoperability, partnerships and smart products that give users access to music in ways they want and need.
Kelaine Blades, 7digital's VP Global Marketing, demoing the 7digital app at the Pioneer booth
7digital at the Pioneer booth
Our partner Pure displays their new Jongo multi-room device. 7digital’s API powers the music running through these nicely designed and colourful speakers.
QNX in-car 7digital integration
Ecosystems and partnerships galore @ CES
The Gibson tent - guitar nirvana!