CES Report: Alexa, Vehicles And Poaching


(By Buzz Knight) Every year at CES we evaluate how technology integrates in our world and how it has the potential to change our lives. Last year we observed the growth curve of Artificial Intelligence and its impact on making products better and more efficient. Voice assistants were a big presence and the competition for share of voice was just beginning to heat up. And of course there are the automotive companies who are represented more prominently than some stand alone car shows.

Remember when the core of a vehicle used to be their drivetrains? Today it is becoming their hard drives. So what among the 4500 exhibitors stands out as I make the pilgrimage around Vegas for CES 2019?

There are always the head scratchers that I wonder how someone could have dreamed up and no less got funding for. But the beauty of CES is that reach for the stars attitude that prevails at the entire event so I will not douse it. We need that reach for the stars attitude in our industry and it is so great seeing an increased representation from radio every year with more and more first timers attending.

As CTA President Gary Shapiro puts it “transformative tech creates new jobs and opportunities on a global scale” This is the core of the “Healthy Paranoia” that is CES.

This year the battle of the Virtual Assistants continues to stand front and center in the battle for attention. Once again those two titans Amazon and Google face off as the penetration of consumers in this space continues to grow. I spoke with a guy from Google as I was checking into my hotel and he was very clear that his company would fiercely fight for share of voice in the home. “As far as we’re concerned it’s a death match “ were his exact words.

Employee poaching between the two companies is at a very high level. This battle has yielded many partnerships with both Amazon and Google with the makers of devices like: thermostats, doorbells, light bulbs and car accessories to add their virtual assistants to them. Amazon continues to grow its technologies showcasing the wide range of capabilities as part of a vision called “Alexa Everywhere “ as it expands its reach into every aspect of people’s lives, from the kitchen to the living room and of course not leaving out the office and the car.

It’s great to see the work that the NAB has done to advance the presence of the radio business here at CES relating to the automotive business and our relationship with that ecosystem.

On the first full day of CES our CEO Caroline Beasley was part of a panel moderated by technology expert John Ellis about the Future of In-Vehicle Entertainment and the evolving synergy between the automotive industry and the radio industry.

Open technology within the automotive business continues to be an important priority and the NAB’s advocacy and collaboration with the GENIVI Alliance also continues to elevate its footprint here at CES and this year is no exception.

Always great to see newcomers making here to CES for their first trek. Here in this photo with me from the floor of the CES are Beasley Media’s Mark Pennington (right) from WRIF in Detroit and Westwood One’s Tim Sabean (left).



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