Early Thoughts from ISE 2015

The ISE show was something of a triumph. The organisers had over 50,000 pre-registered visitors from all over Europe and the show was busy and very well attended. Although some exhibitors were grumpy about an extension to Friday, others were happy to extend their stay in the city to the weekend. I had several thoughts about the show.

First, it’s no longer good enough, if you are a display vendor, to be simply big or bright or even big and bright with high quality and good colour. Over the years, it has got harder and harder to impress me simply with visual impact. The great advances in small pixel pitch LED, OLED and LCD have meant that displays can basically be as big and as good as you like. The colour problems and resolution challenges of the past are really over and even power consumption is dropping. Price remains the barrier and maintaining long term life and quality remains the key factor in vendor decisions.

There was a time when only the well-established Japanese, European and American brands could engineer really good video and colour out of LEDs, but now there are a number of Chinese suppliers that had very impressive displays in Amsterdam.

The second area that struck me is in the shift of a lot of brands and companies to becoming true B2B suppliers. If I think back over five years or so, the exhibitors at the show tended to be split between those that understood the B2B/partner/integration market (again, often Japanese and European) with other companies (mainly from Korea and Taiwan) that looked like slightly out of place consumer companies.

That has now changed and companies such as Samsung, LG, BenQ and Optoma now look like suppliers to the professional markets. Samsung had a significant area of its booth devoted to partner demonstrations. We didn’t see that a few years ago. The consumer market is a difficult one and the Chinese are coming, so these vendors are looking for value added markets. That will be a challenge to existing suppliers to the professional A/V world.

Finally, it’s often most interesting to think about what is not on display. I have written and spoken at length over the last few years about the integration of digital signage and public displays with the mobile devices that consumers carry. What occurred to me after the end of the show is that almost nobody over the three days had talked about this topic. I can only remember seeing a sign about “beacons” once, on the LG booth. Now, I wasn’t searching things out, and this was not a scientific survey, but over the three days and dozens of conversations, I can’t remember one that addressed how to pull those that are looking at their personal displays towards the fantastic large displays that were all over ISE.

That remains a challenge and perhaps we’ll see more on this topic in a couple of weeks in Barcelona at the Mobile World Congress.