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5G will be the star of CES 2020


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5G will be the star of CES 2020

The Consumer Technology Association's premier conference and expo, CES 2020, will kick off in January. A number of consumer technologies, including Internet of Things, cloud and edge computing, digital video and advertising, social media, gaming, and virtual reality, will be showcased, with the burgeoning 5G mobile standard binding them all.

The official expo runs Jan. 7-10, 2020, though some of the world's largest tech and tech-powered companies will hold media events beginning Jan. 5, 2020. With 2.9 million square feet of exhibition space and over 170,000 attendees expected, CES stands as the largest consumer electronics show. Companies like Sony Corp., Samsung Electronics, Intel Corp., Toyota Motor Corp., Alphabet Inc., Twitter Inc. and Viacom Inc. will present new technologies alongside some of the world's most promising startups, but a representative from the CTA said that 5G will be the connective tissue holding it all together.

"5G obviously is a huge theme, and we're seeing how the speed and reliability and efficiency is really driving innovation across industries," CTA Event Communications Director Sarah Brown said in an interview.

SNL Image
The Samsung booth at CES 2019.
Source: Samsung

The next-generation mobile standard's limited rollout in 2019 will pick up steam in 2020 when major carriers around the globe ramp up deployments, prompting device makers to tailor products to the new connectivity standards. Many of these devices will be on display at CES, and there will also be a variety of panel discussions examining how 5G will impact tech in the near future. For example, Mo Katibeh, chief marketing officer of AT&T Inc.'s AT&T Business, on Jan. 7, 2020, will join Dominic Papa, vice president of the Arizona Commerce Authority's Smart State Initiatives, to discuss how the implementation of 5G will impact providers, policy makers and businesses. On the next day, QUALCOMM Inc. President Cristiano Amon will lead a session called "How 5G will change your life."

It is very likely that major smartphone makers attending CES such as Samsung and LG Electronics Inc. will unveil a new range of 5G smartphones, expanding on a small list of devices that currently support the wireless technology. Other 5G-centric hardware such as modems and smart home products are expected to be highlighted, as well. Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 865 chipset, which is set to be the 5G heart of most 2020 Android smartphones, also is likely to be featured in many CES presentations.

The lower latency and higher reliability of 5G is driving increased interest in the Internet of Things and smart cities. About 20% of exhibitors and about 70% of the show floor at CES 2020 will be dedicated to smart cities technology, one of the fastest-growth areas at CES in recent years, Brown said.

Virtual reality, or VR, will also be a big focus at CES. After incurring a decline in shipments, VR headsets are expected to make a comeback in 2020, as a new range of devices were launched this year. Tech companies capitalizing on this momentum are likely to showcase new VR hardware and software. A number of conference sessions will discuss VR's place in entertainment, travel and marketing.

5G technology also has the potential to deliver streaming video faster and with more interactive features than 4G to mobile and home users. With the expectations for that new level of service and a boom in video-streaming platforms in 2019, there will be plenty of panel discussions and demonstrations on the trajectory of video technology.

For example, on Jan. 6, 2020, representatives from Fox, Viacom, Twitter and PBS will discuss the future of "what was once known as 'television,'" looking at the evolution of prime-time viewing and multiplatform video packages. With that evolution comes a changing relationship between brand marketers and consumers, and new strategies in video advertising. General Motors Co. Global Chief Marketing Officer Deborah Wahl will discuss such opportunities in a Jan. 7, 2020, fireside chat. Marketing executives from Activision Blizzard Inc., White Castle and PepsiCo Inc. will discuss consumer engagement on connected TVs, and another panel will focus on audience measurement the same day.

The meteoric rise of esports will be another hot topic at CES. As revenue swells in the space, major tech companies could announce that they are venturing into this booming market, and companies already in the industry will discuss its trajectory. For instance, a Jan. 8, 2020, panel focused on how brands are successfully engaging customers through esports will include speakers from Samsung, Dell Technologies Inc., Activision Blizzard and Inc.'s Twitch.

These massive brands will rub shoulders with a range of startups. The expo floor in 2020 will include about 1,200 startups out of 4,500 total presenting companies. Eureka Park, an exposition area dedicated to startups alone, will host booths from 50 different countries as those companies court media, investors and potential partners, vying for positions on the main show floor in coming years.