2013 International CES: Governed by Three Laws

2013 International CES

2013 International CESCES is around the corner and, as usual, the main themes will be “thinner, higher resolution and more powerful.”  But that doesn’t mean that it’s business as usual.  Research by the Consumer Electronics Association (CES), the nice people who stage the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) shows that smartphone sales will see continued growth in 2013 and will remain the primary revenue driver for the industry.

Shipment revenues for smartphones are expected to reach $37 billion in 2013, with more than 125.8 million units shipping to dealers, up 16 percent from 2012. Tablet computers also are expected to see phenomenal growth. In 2013, unit sales of tablets are projected to surpass 105 million (up 54 percent), resulting in $35.6 billion in shipment revenue, up 22 percent year-over-year.

These are big numbers and they are only going to get bigger — but what do they mean?

In my new book, Digital Wisdom: Thought Leadership for a Connected World, I examine how three interesting observed laws converge to offer meaning to statistics like these:

1)    Moore’s Law states that, “the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years.”  This isn’t accurate, it’s more like one year, and the rate of change is accelerating. But it does speak to the idea of exponential growth.

2)    Metcalfe’s Law states that, “the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system (n2).”  The math here is questionable too, but it is very obvious that the value of a network increase with the addition of each additional user, the only question is – by how much?

3)    Kurzweil’s Law of Accelerating Returns is the thesis of his book, The Singularity is Near and he observes that the rate of change in a wide variety of evolutionary systems tends to increase exponentially.  This is the least obvious of the three laws, but understanding the exponential rate of technological progress is critical to understanding how consumer behavior is likely to evolve in, what will now feel like, a very short time period.

When taken together, these three laws, which are not really laws, but rather ideas — help add context to the CEA’s research.  You can intuit that rapid and remarkable socioeconomic change will start happening faster than we can plan for.  The speed will continue to accelerate, and the “network effect,” (Metcalfe’s Law) will empower consumers in ways that will stretch the limits of our imaginations.

I’m really looking forward to CES this year.  It’s going to be a great show with 150,000 of my closest friends.  We’re going to see, first hand, how these three conceptual laws interact with the world of consumer electronics and, with a little Digital Wisdom, may even be able to use the knowledge to make better business decisions.


About Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the Professor of Advanced Media in Residence at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and CEO of The Palmer Group, a consulting practice that helps Fortune 500 companies with technology, media and marketing. Named LinkedIn’s “Top Voice in Technology,” he covers tech and business for Good Day New York, is a regular commentator on CNN and writes a popular daily business blog. He's a bestselling author, and the creator of the popular, free online course, Generative AI for Execs. Follow @shellypalmer or visit shellypalmer.com.



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