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CES 2020: From cars to content to phones, annual trade show did not disappoint

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CES 2020: From cars to content to phones, annual trade show did not disappoint

Several burgeoning technologies powered by the new powerful 5G mobile standard will advance toward consumer and enterprise markets in 2020, and crowds at CES, the Consumer Technology Association's annual technology and media trade show, gathered expectantly in Las Vegas last week to witness a glimpse of the future.

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CES 2020
Source: S&P Global Market Intelligence

Robots scurried around the milling feet of roughly 170,000 attendees, each bot charged with tasks from delivering food to merely being cute and charming conference-goers. Companies with automated internet of things services showed off smart model homes, cars and city infrastructure. Device makers of every category — from smartphones to TVs to bread machines — put their products online and on display, fishing for both investors and a competitive advantage in an expanding market for connected tech.

5G is actually here this time

5G was the connective tissue at CES 2020, with representatives from companies across media, telecommunications and technology showcasing new 5G-enabled products. The next-generation mobile standard offers greater speeds than the current 4G LTE standard, higher device volumes and lower latency times.

The topic was threaded throughout an opening presentation led by Steve Koenig, CTA vice president of research, who said 5G will be the first mobile standard led by enterprise, including sectors connecting their logistics such as agriculture, healthcare and manufacturing.

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Qualcomm unveils a 5G-enabled hybrid PC
Source: S&P Global Market Intelligence

For consumer devices, more 5G-enabled products than ever began to hit the market during CES 2020, like QUALCOMM Inc.'s new Yoga 5G laptop-tablet hybrid, which will go on sale this spring with a starting price of $1,499. According to 2019 data from the market research and consulting firm Grand View Research, the lion's share of laptops sold globally ranged from $501 to $1,000.

"2020 is the year we really expect 5G to scale, and it's moving faster than 4G, despite skepticism," Qualcomm President Cristiano Amon said during that company's press conference.

Few 5G smartphones were unveiled at CES, though companies like TCL Corp. teased upcoming 5G phones and early indications suggest more will be put to market throughout the year. Based on Qualcomm's 5G microchip orders, Amon estimated that 200 million 5G phones will ship globally in 2020, increasing to 750 million in 2022. Qualcomm also expects more than 1 billion 5G connections by 2023 and 2.8 billion connections by 2025.

Content to be mobile

Quibi Holdings LLC also made a splash at CES 2020 when it demonstrated its long-awaited mobile entertainment video platform. The startup brought partner T-Mobile US Inc. to the stage to discuss how the platform, with its high data traffic and need for low latency, could be a "perfect use case" for 5G, according to executives, as well as Alphabet Inc. to discuss how it has been working with Quibi founder Jeffrey Katzenberg for years to support intelligence technologies in the product.

Launching April 6, Quibi will feature 8,500 episodes of 175 new shows in its first year, using proprietary technology Turnstile, which allows viewers to switch between portrait and landscape modes when viewing a program without interrupting the narrative. The platform will also use other smartphone features such as touchscreen, GPS, camera and gyroscope technologies to enhance the storytelling experience.

An ad-supported version of the service will be available for $4.99 and an ad-free version will be available for $7.99. By comparison, long-form streaming service Netflix Inc. starts at $8.99 per month and The Walt Disney Co.'s freshly launched Disney+ service costs $6.99 a month.

T-Mobile will make Quibi available to its 68 million wireless customers at launch, providing some immediate scale.

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Sony surprises audiences with its Vision-S prototype car
Source: S&P Global Market Intelligence

Cars, the new mobile device

In recent years, CES has been replete with automakers unveiling their newest connected-car technology, but few expected Sony Corp., decidedly not an automaker before now, to join the fray and unveil its own connected-car prototype, the Vision-S.

"Our sights are set on the future age of autonomous driving," Sony President and CEO Kenichiro Yoshida said during the conference, ensuring the audience that the company will maintain its media roots as well.

Qualcomm also announced its new autonomous driving platform, dubbed Snapdragon Ride, which includes the hardware and software needed to help automakers turn their vehicles into self-driving cars.

Echoing comments from Sony that mobility is the next "megatrend," electrical-vehicle manufacturer BYTON unveiled a market-ready version of its first consumer product M-Byte, a tech-laden, 5G-ready electric vehicle with a US$45,000 entry price that will look to take share from Tesla Inc. Featuring a 48-inch-long interactive digital dashboard display and "full connectivity with all devices," Byton Chief of Staff Qingfen Ding called it "the world's first smart device on wheels."

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Dell joins a trend toward foldable mobile devices
Source: S&P Global Market Intelligence

Integrating new tech into the fold

Sit down, wearables. CES 2020 saw the newest trend in mobile technology come to the fore: foldables.

Several major phone developers and hardware companies entered this new category during CES 2020. Microsoft Corp. in October announced a pair of dual-screen, foldable devices that are set to launch in the 2020 holiday season: the Surface Neo tablet and the Surface Duo smartphone. The company will put its Windows 10 operating system on the foldable devices that generated the most buzz at the trade show, such as the ThinkPad X1 Fold, which manufacturer Lenovo Group Ltd. called the world's first foldable PC.

Dell Technologies Inc. unveiled two foldable concepts of its own: the Duet and the Ori. The Duet is similar to Microsoft's Surface Neo and has two screens connected by a hinge instead of a single screen. The Ori, however, has a truly foldable OLED screen that folds upon itself, similar to the X1 Fold. Intel Corp. also presented a foldable prototype, with a computer code-named "Horseshoe Bend." The device unfolds into a 17.3-inch OLED screen — significantly larger than the X1 fold.

The only foldable device widely available in the U.S. is Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.'s Galaxy Fold, with a 4.6-inch screen that opens like a book to a 7.3-inch screen.