The Bitter Taste of a Sour Apple (and CES update)–Futurum Tech Podcast Episode 026

On this edition of the Futurum Tech Podcast, we told you so, Apple’s rotten chickens finally come to roost, an analysis. Hackers are it again. This time going after German politicians. Don’t be a brand traitor. What not to do when you work for a tech company. The new age of robots from landing on the far side of the Moon, to bringing us snacks, and our top predictions for what to expect and not expect from CES this year. Those stories and more coming up on this episode of FTP.

Our Main Dive

Facing slowing sales in China, a lack of innovation mojo, and a difficult transition from products to services, Apple has shed a Facebook’s worth of valuation since its $Trillion-dollar high. Here’s why, and what’s next.

Our Fast Five

We dig into this week’s interesting and noteworthy news:

  • Marriott’s Data Breach was NOT as bad as you might have thought (but it was)
  • IBM’s WeatherChannel gets smacked by Los Angeles for using user data for marketing & hedge fund research
  • SEC’s chairman Ajit Pai & commissioner Brendan Carr cancel their CES plans (citing the showdown, which we don’t buy)
  • PepsiCo launches an autonomous “cooler on wheels” to distribute snacks to college students
  • Hackers in Germany target “certain” politicians with doxing attack

Tech Bites

Huawei, for demoting employees who used an Apple iPhone to tweet official Happy New Year’s greetings.

Crystal Ball: Future-um Predictions and Guesses

Our Futurum-take on the upcoming CES show in Las Vegas, and the arrival of ACPC laptops, new smart-phone gaming options, and the arrival of “AI Inside” marketing.


Daniel Newman: Welcome to Futurum Tech Podcast 2019 first edition. We are back in the new year. We are back but unfortunately, we are missing one. But this is Dan Newman and I am your host today, Principal Analyst at Futurum Research, joined today by Olivier Blanchard, Senior Analyst. But we are without Mr. Fred McClimans because the dental chair took a turn for the worse.

Olivier Blanchard: Oh, no.

Daniel Newman: Talking is not going to be something he’s going to want to do today on this very first Friday of 2019, but Olivier, I am excited to be back. I’m always excited for a new year, and while I’m not a resolutions guy, I’m not a guy that necessarily says, “Big changes,” because of a new year, I do love the sort of fresh slate and the opportunity to do great things. When you’re following the tech industry, you know a new year brings great things to come. So welcome back. How are you doing Olivier?

Olivier Blanchard: I am doing awesome. How are you?

Daniel Newman: Thanks for keeping the answers short. We’ve got a lot of content to cover today.

Olivier Blanchard: Yeah.

Daniel Newman: Coming straight out of the new year. Everybody knows … Oh, wait a minute before I jump in, got to give a little brief.

Olivier Blanchard: Oh, yeah.

Daniel Newman: In this show we will talk about technology companies. We will talk about publicly traded technology companies. This is however not a show to provide any sort of financial guidance. Please do not make any financial stock investments on the basis of the advice given in this show. Okay disclaimer, all done.

Hopefully you got that, but what I was about to say before I so rudely interrupted myself, was in the end of December we saw a wildly volatile market take place. We saw the stocks going up a thousand, we saw the stocks going down 800 points, crazy.

Coming out of the new year, nothing has really changed wild turbulence, ups and downs. But one of the companies that, God, only a couple of months ago, we were touting on this show, we were touting, not necessarily all positive by the way, but that was being touted here on our show and pretty much on every network around the world was Apple, because they were the first company to reach a valuation of a trillion dollars in market cap. Huge accomplishment.

Well, fast-forward just a few months, and I think it was as of January 3rd, their market cap had fallen by over 40%, having lost more than 400 billion dollars in value and falling down, by the way, not just below Microsoft, and not just below Amazon, but they also fell momentarily below, I believe it was Google, making them now the fourth highest market cap in the United States, but a wild ride, huge drops.

This most recent drop of more than 10% came on the back of a earnings and revenue adjustment that was put out by Tim Cook, basically saying they were going fall several billion dollars short on sales in this next quarter, and it was coming from soft demand for their iPhone products.

Now, Olivier, I think we feel vindicated. I think we feel like we’re 10 feet tall. I think we feel like, “Oh my God, we’ve been talking about this for a year.” I have MarketWatch articles with people throwing tomatoes at me. So yes, they do still do that, because I predicted that Microsoft would not only continue as the number one company, but they could actually gain their strength. You’ve been making predictions about this, we’ve been calling out Apple’s innovation problems. How does all this beyond just vindicated, talk to me about what you think about all this news and how it’s made you feel?

Olivier Blanchard: Yeah. Well, I mean, yeah, it makes me feel … like it’s good to be right, especially when the majority of the market, and majority of journalists and pundits who interact with us tend to feel the opposite. Look at when I was saying six months ago that it was pretty likely that Apple was going to have a really bad 2019 year, that I was noticing that all of its product sales were effectively stalled, and I could foresee a slowdown, actually just a downslide of product sales going into 2019, people look at me like, “You’re crazy. They’re a trillion dollar company. They’re the most successful company ever. They’re Apple. Everybody loves the iPhones, blah, blah blah.”

I was like, “I understand that. But that’s not what I’m seeing. They do have an innovation problem. There’s iPhone fatigue.” Well there’s smartphone upgrade fatigue in general, which has nothing to do with Apple. I think it’s across the board. People don’t necessarily want or need to upgrade their phones every single year.

I think that we’ve hit peak price elasticity at 1,200 bucks with iPhones. People are basically looking at the price of a computer every year to replace the iPhone. It’s just not tenable anymore. The quality of the iPhone, or at least the performance characteristics of the iPhone aren’t as superior as they used to be. Actually, I think that iPhone is fallen back in certain key areas compared to some of its competition’s premium or flagship smartphones.

And trust in Apple in general has kind of eroded a little bit with the issues that Apple has kind of brought on itself by throttling batteries and its users, by being sloppy with some of its software updates, and with user privacy and data privacy in the last year. So I don’t think that the loyalty for Apple is there anymore.

I think the market is starting to see Apple more as a greedy company, more so than it used to five years ago. So I think all of these things have kind of conspired together to create kind of like the perfect storm for a downslide for Apple.

Apple in its hubris and believing its own press and doing a lot of spinning to try to hide a lot of these problems, probably drank too much of its own Kool-Aid, and instead of correcting those errors while they were denying them in the public, continued to believe that those errors and those problems were not problems at all, that they would go away or that they would be able to kind of BS their way through them as they had in previous quarters.

I think that what we’re seeing now is just a lot of those chickens that we identified over the last year coming home to roost all at once. I don’t think this is the end of Apple’s problems. They have a lot of litigation, that’s not looking good for them, in China, Germany in the US with the ITC. There appears to be a pattern of patent infringements by Apple with regard to Qualcomm and other companies, that I think is going to cost Apple, well in financial terms clearly, but also in terms of their reputation and their standing in the technology world.

And lastly, what I see is Apple doesn’t really have anywhere else to go. The hardware sales, right now there’s nothing in the pipeline for Apple to really change that. Their promises with regard to AR, which we’ve been hearing about for about two years, haven’t really materialized. I’m hearing a lot of vaporware stories, but I haven’t seen a product, a prototype. I don’t really know if they have anything viable to offer that anybody would care about in the next year.

Apple has, I think in my mind made a huge miscalculation in not jumping in the smart home space, which I think they could have not only owned, but given purpose too in a way that Google and Amazon haven’t. So I think there was a missed opportunity there. So there’s really nowhere for Apple to go. There’s nothing new for Apple to offer.

They’ve essentially cut themselves off from smartphone innovation by running afoul of their partnership with Qualcomm. And so I don’t really see Apple being able to pull itself out of this situation in the next year, which isn’t to say that Apple won’t make an awesome comeback. I’m absolutely convinced that Apple will make a comeback at some point. But I think that in 2019 there’s a lot of questions from investors, and pretty much zero concrete answers from Apple. I think that’s going to be the problem, and it’s going to stall their comeback at least until 2020, in my opinion.

Daniel Newman: You know, one of the most interesting things I read was a series of comments that came from equities analysts around the world, different than us as industry analysts, the equities focus really on the stock. But it was amazing to see the Goldman’s, the Jeffries, these companies going from buy to neutral and showing new price targets that continued to see a bottom for this company that hasn’t been met yet, meaning that they see significant falls ahead.

On that day, I think what they basically did was they broke up their slide, because on the day when this actual earnings report comes out and these revenue numbers are missed, they’re going to take a big bite. So I think what they tried to do is take a little bit of the hard edge off that day and take some fall now and take some fall then.

Now Cook did say his profits are going to be … the earnings per share will be bigger than ever. So even though they missed their revenue, they’re making more money than ever, which is important to talk about. I’m going to circle back to that in a minute.

Yesterday, I went on a victory lap. I was tweeting up a storm, talking about all of our predictions over the last year, and not so much because I’m really patting us on the back, but we did take a risk. We put ourselves out there, we called foul on some of their behavior. Some of the things that you just mentioned, Olivier, and we kind of called foul, even up to yesterday on what Tim Cook’s saying, making this a political thing, blaming China solely.

I tweeted out, I said, “Apple blames China and cheap customers for their shortfall, but they sell the most expensive devices that offer B plus features at best.” Basically long and short is, they do have an innovation problem. They don’t have the best products. I got some really great responses. One came from an AI business chief at IBM, and he said, he totally agrees. He said, “1,250 to buy a decent iPhone XS, now,” That’s 10X you know, however you say it?

Olivier Blanchard: Mm-hmm.

Daniel Newman: That’s two times what an iPhone cost two years ago. And it’s 1.6 times what a better Google Pixel 3 costs.

Olivier Blanchard: Yeah.

Daniel Newman: So to your point, we have seen basically the $1,000 plus price tag is the edge of the elasticity curve. We’ve hit the point now where people are not willing to pay any more. Maybe at 999, that was okay. At 1,099 all of a sudden people are taking pause and saying, “Can I use my 6? Can I use my 7? Is there really a reason that I need to upgrade?” And that goes back to your point, Olivier on incrementalism, is there really a point in upgrading? What am I getting?

So if you have an iPhone 8 with portrait mode, do you need a XS? I mean, do you need the notch? What are you really getting? And yes, you can have your incrementalist technophile geeks tell you about an improved chip that maybe has momentary processing shifts, responsiveness. But I’m telling you, I’ve gone from the 4 to the 5, to the 6 to the 7, to the 10, and I’ve noticed very little difference in my day in and day out experience between these devices. Screens have gotten bigger, screens have gotten smaller.

The big difference to the X, and the notch eliminating the button, that was a difference. It took some time to get used to, still not necessarily sure it’s better. I’m still not necessarily sure I prefer to not have just the home button. But that was a material difference. A lot of these other things are not that big of a difference at all.

Olivier Blanchard: No.

Daniel Newman: So is it China? Sure, that’s part of it. Is it their pricing? Yeah, that’s part of it too. Is it their lack of innovation? I would suggest that that’s probably right. Does incrementalism make it worthwhile to buy a new phone every year? I don’t think so. Does cheating people into buying new devices by throttling their batteries? That doesn’t help them very much. Does developing products for global markets that aren’t accepted, like in India, is that a problem? Yeah.

Bottom line, Olivier, lots of problems. There’s a lot of problems in the market with Apple, and they’re not creating the excitement. They’re not building the innovative products they once built. Tim Cook is arrogant, he’s arrogant, and he’s created an arrogant company that makes arrogant decisions.

Coming full circle to what I mentioned early on about biggest profits ever, that’s what he’s good at. That’s what everybody worried about when he took office. He’s a supply chain guy. He’s going to run a supply chain. So what has he done? He’s cut costs out of the supply chain. He sued and put out of business half of his suppliers. He wants to bring in-house the manufacturing of certain components to decrease the costs so he can make more money on every device.

And that takes me to a whole other level of irony, going back to what you talked about with the Qualcomm suit, is somehow Apple is complaining about Qualcomm’s desire to make a profit on their intellectual property, while apple continues to make the largest profit in the industry, per device on a premium product. My mind is absolutely blown. Apple’s getting what they deserve. You can be mad at me. You can write into the show, tell me why I’m wrong, but I can tell you a hundred times why I’m right.

Olivier Blanchard: Yeah. Well, it’s funny because we’ve been hearing … We were strictly in the minority, and a very, very small minority, and being critical and concerned about Apple’s path and where it was going to lead. We heard a lot more from people who disagreed with us, the people who agreed with us. But today when finally we saw the results of all this, and Apple has lost since October 3rd, so it’s not like something that happened just overnight after Tim Cook sent his letter to investors, this has been actually going on pretty progressively since October.

Since October, Apple has lost something like 450 million, or I’m sorry, billion in market capitalization. So it is something that’s been happening over time. But now that we’re realizing this and that Apple stock is pretty much tanking, now all of a sudden all of these people who told us that we were wrong, or were kind of frowning at us for making these projections, are all getting on our boat and saying, “Well yeah, look at the numbers. Obviously, there’s a problem with Apple.”

It just blows my mind that it takes an event like this to get people off the fence, or to get people to finally shift their perspective when really all the signs were very clear all along. All anybody had to do was not just copy, paste bullet points issued by Apple, but actually do the work of even just talking to iPhone users, right?

Just looking at some basic numbers and going, “There’s a gap between what Apple is telling us and what the pro Apple press is parroting, and reality, and what we’re actually seeing in the real world.” One of the most mind-boggling thing I read this morning was a piece by … I think it was on CNBC, let’s see if I have it here. Yeah, there it is. So by Michael Sheetz on CNBC, and it talks about the fall of Apple and its market capitalization in the last three months.

“The Apple market value plunge in context,” he says “from a 150 billion dollars, is twice the size of Wells Fargo, three times the size of McDonald’s, five times the size of Costco.” I mean this is massive. This is a big deal, and I don’t know if Tim Cook is going to try to downplay it and say, “Don’t worry about it, we’re Apple.” But this is not something you sweep under the rug. It’s not something you can ignore or brush off and say, “We’ll be fine. Don’t worry, we’re Apple.” This is a problem that’s going to stick with the company all year, if not into 2020.

Daniel Newman: Not to mention they have looming injunctions in two global economies, in Germany and in China, that they haven’t really abided to yet, that they’ve sort of worked around.

Olivier Blanchard: Yeah, they’re in place, but they haven’t actually affected Apple yet because the partial iPhone ban in China and in Germany, even though they’re technically in effect, they have not yet been enforced. And so we’re not seeing a drop in sales from those iPhone bans yet. They’re not showing up in Apple’s numbers. So if they do start to show up for the next quarter, that’s going to be a pretty big deal because Germany is the biggest market in western Europe. Western Europe is Apple or iPhones’ second biggest market in the world. Petty much tied with China.

Then China obviously is, depending on which quarter you look at, either the second or the third, biggest iPhone market for Apple in the world. So this is a very big deal. It’s not just a partial iPhone ban in Lithuania somewhere.

These are major markets for Apple.

Daniel Newman: Yeah. So if those injunctions ever actually get enforced, you could see another pretty big hit coming because the downturn has not been related to any sort of stopping or of sale or shipment in those markets. Now for all the people out there that are turning beet red, that are angry at me and Olivier, and everything we have to say here, I will take a moment to pause. I do want to point out Olivier, I do agree with what you say, the fall may not be over, but the comeback will be meaningful.

Olivier Blanchard: Yeah.

Daniel Newman: Whether that’s a new CEO, I don’t know that Tim Cook is the long-term answer. I’d never thought he was though. I don’t know if that is new innovation. Maybe it’s these AR kits. Maybe it’s something in the home, but they will come back. This is not the end, but what I think was really important to point out is they were not infallible, and all those people for all those years that thought they were, forgot that they’d been fallible multiple times in their history, and the cycles have come again. I think, like you said, “The chickens have come home to roost.”

So great segment there. Love that. I love the topic. And by the way, I would love to be wrong, because I love seeing companies thrive. So you know what? I hope everything works out. I’d like to see them settle with Qualcomm. I’d like to see them buy into 5G, another shortfall that we didn’t even touch on here, because if you want to be the most innovative company in the world, it’s really hard to say you are when you’re not even embracing the highest quality standard technologies that are available to you in the market. Another topic for another day. I’m not going to even give you a chance to breathe in there, Olivier.

Let’s jump over to our Fast Five. Our first Fast Five of the year. It’s always a little harder when we have to carry the weight without Mr. McClimans-

Olivier Blanchard: I know.

Daniel Newman: … but he is missed. But you have a few of them up your sleeve. So why don’t you jump in with me and tell me what’s going on with, Marriott had a little update?

Olivier Blanchard: Yes. So as you may recall, Marriott had a huge data breach not very long ago, that I think we covered on this podcast, of about a half …. was it half a million customer’s information was breached and Marriott had no clear answer to it? It was a pretty big deal.

Well, Marriott International apparently has updates on the case, and the good news is that instead of 500 million guests whose information was stolen by hackers, it turns out to only have been just shy of 400 million, 383 million was the upper limits Marriott International claims. So the good news is that the breach was only 400 million people instead of 500 million.

Daniel Newman: They did a 20% better bad job in that.

Olivier Blanchard: Right. They optimized it down to 383 million.

Daniel Newman: 117 million less people breached is a good thing. So we’ll take that as a little win in the first of our 2019 Fast Five.

Olivier Blanchard: Right.

Daniel Newman: I want to share a little update about Los Angeles. They are accusing The Weather Channel app of covertly mining user data. Now, note The Weather Channel app is owned by IBM. It was an interesting acquisition that was made a few years back. It’s got 45 million active users, and what they’re basically saying is that the company did not just use data for providing weather information, but they also used the data for unrelated commercial purposes like targeted marketing and analysis for hedge funds, according to the lawsuit.

So an interesting thing, and it’s something we’ll have to keep an eye on. This was in The New York Times today. This is where that privacy issue just continues to proliferate. People opt into things, they give certain rights to companies, and companies have very loose guidance on how that opt in affects their ability to use data and commercialize data for other purposes.

So let’s hope that nothing too egregious was done here, but it’s not such a bad thing to see municipalities and cities standing up for the fact that companies maybe are abusing user data. So jumping on to your second Fast Five. The FCC chairman has been stalled out due to a government shutdown, huh?

Olivier Blanchard: Yeah. So next week we will be definitely focused on CES, but we can kind of start inching our way towards CES on this podcast with this bit of news that FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, and also the commissioner, Brendan Carr are both canceling their appearances in CES this year because of they claim, “The ongoing government shutdown.” So you will not have the pleasure of being able to have coffee with Mr. Pai and Mr. Carr.

Daniel Newman: Yeah. So I want to announce I’m canceling my trip because I hate going to Vegas, and I have been the last several years, and I’m taking a year off. I’m going to remotely cover the event. I’ve already done more coverage than last year when I was there because the difference is sitting here, I can read and write and follow and watch, and when I’m there it’s hard to get to even three booths in the course of a day.

Great event. It’s super cool. It’s definitely a lot of energy in being there. I think Mr. Pai probably doesn’t want to go because he doesn’t want any pies thrown at him because I don’t think he’s the most popular in terms … maybe with some of the cable companies, but he certainly isn’t popular with the consumers.

So let me talk about my second Fast Five, and that’s a little fun one. PepsiCo is deploying a series of autonomous robots that will be bringing snacks to college students. Now picture like a little … like the cooler your parents used to have in your basement that you opened the lid on and that’s where they kept the popsicles, kind of like one of those with wheels.

It’s got the little credit card swiper, and it’s got little … kind of like a vending machine that you can pick out of, and instead of you going to the machine, now the machine’s coming to you. So they’re starting this at the University of the Pacific out in California. But I’m guessing with expansion in mind, it’s saying, “Hey, let’s make snacks more accessible and let’s make it easier for people to get to them, and let’s use autonomous technologies to do so.”

So very interesting. I’ll be watching this experiment. I’m still interested if people can manage their anger, rage and vandalism towards these types of devices because that’s kind of what I’m wondering as we see jobs and displacement take place with these kinds of technologies, are angry people going to try to beat up the machines? Now I’m sure they’re loaded with cameras, but you know, these thugs are loaded with masks. Anyhow.

Olivier Blanchard: No, I want one of these for home. So I think I’m going to try to design one using a Roomba, a portable fridge and some duct tape. I think I can build one of those at home.

Daniel Newman: You need to build an app though, and a sensor so it knows how to come find you, because the point is you don’t need to get off the sofa.

Olivier Blanchard: Yeah, that’s right.

Daniel Newman: All right. Let’s go into your last Fast Five. Just a little news. Another kind of data breach, a little dox going on in Germany, involving-

Olivier Blanchard: Yeah, more hackers misbehaving or doing what hackers will do. So this time hackers went after some German politicians, including Angela Merkel, and essentially swiped a bunch of their private information, home address, telephone number, social media stuff. Went ahead and did a data dump on its politician. So it’s a little bit more of a doxing than a true hack, I think. But it was coordinated. It was focused.

As always, it can be embarrassing for the people who have been hacked. It highlights some of the kind of everyday vulnerabilities that unfortunately our digital lifestyles have brought into our personal ecosystem. So something else to look out for. If people like Angela Merkel can be hacked, anybody could be hacked. I think doxing is going to be an ongoing issue for a lot of us.

Daniel Newman: Yeah, and especially with all the sort of like … I talked about the rage against the machines and the autonomous device, well rage against politicians, against policy, hackers, black hat efforts with political intention. It’s got to be a little bit of a scary time to be famous. Thank God our podcast only has several … I don’t know, 100,000 listeners, instead of millions of listeners, because who knows, someone might come to my house and realize that my microphone is not nearly as impressive as I sound?

But anyways. So let’s get to tech bites, and we’ve been talking about a lot of things in tech that bites, what’s going on with Weather Channel, definitely bites, people getting hacked, bites. Apple seems to bite quite a bit, but what would our show be without one category to pick on some really, really stupid things that happen in technology?

This week, the champion goes to Chinese phone maker Huawei, because they’ve had to demote multiple employees for apparently sending out a company’s New Year’s greeting on the company’s official Twitter account using an iPhone … stupid. I don’t know Olivier, just give me two minutes on this. How the heck does this even happen?

Olivier Blanchard: I don’t know. Especially when you think that China … that we should have probably covered this in our Fast Five, but China put a robot on the far side of the Moon this week. China also tweeted Huawei information from an iPhone. So it’s, you kind of run the full range of amazing technical expertise and competence and at the same time these types of brain fart snafus that happen from time to time. I wouldn’t read too much into it. For me, it’s funny. It’s probably not funny for those two employees who’ve been demoted, but it’s not the end of the world.

Daniel Newman: Yeah. Well thank goodness there’s always people to double-check where you’re tweeting from, so they know what device you’re on?

Olivier Blanchard: Yeah, they do.

Daniel Newman: You know, it’s interesting because the board even … the president, the director of the board even said, “The incident has caused damage to the Huawei brand.” The Huawei brand is having enough of its own problems right now, that it would good to think that the employees of the company like their devices enough to use them.

I’ve never quite understood that. I’ve never even quite understood how it’s possible, but I guess if you have multiple devices, you carry a device on your own, you don’t always use your company device, but you have enterprise tools on your second device, which might be an iPhone, that you could get busted doing this. I would just think that there would be no way I would even … it’s almost like self-control. I just wouldn’t put that Twitter account and give access to that Twitter account on that device. Just in case you’re having too much fun on New Year’s Eve.

Olivier Blanchard: Yeah. Just out of … I don’t know, just professional courtesy, or if anything, professional self-preservation, I think that it would be kind of a default if you work for Apple, to have an iPhone. If you work for Google, to have a Pixel. If you work for Huawei, to have a Huawei phone.

It seems inconceivable to me that someone who works for a company wouldn’t be using their basic technology, especially for work. Even if you have two phones and when you’re away from your coworkers, you have your rival phone or device. I don’t know, if you work for Microsoft, I’m assuming that you’re using Windows on your laptop. This is the same sort of a case.

Daniel Newman: Oh goodness. All right, well that concludes our tech bites, and for those horribly unfortunate duo, that got demoted, I guess they could be grateful that they just got demoted and didn’t get fired, because I’m sure culturally speaking that could be an unforgivable act of corporate treason.

Olivier Blanchard: Yeah.

Daniel Newman: In fact, I think they kind of use that word in some of the … they call them “A traitor.” The traitor has revealed himself quicker than you do on Microblog (Weibo) in a comment liked over 600 times. So anyways, the traitor did get called out, and the traitor did get demoted.

All right, last thing to conclude our first show of the year, and it’s been a fun one Olivier, is talk about CES. So next week we will give the coverage, on the back end of the show we’ll give our opinions. I did publish my five key themes that I believe will be most prevalent at CES, and we’ll talk more about that. But how about for today for our crystal ball, just give me one really big theme or interesting launch that you foresee taking place at this year’s CES show?

Olivier Blanchard: Well, you know, I haven’t really looked into the entertainment thing. So what’s coming up with TVs and video games, I’m not really sure I can speak intelligently about, so I’ll be really curious to see what comes out. What I do anticipate though is a little bit of focus on the future of laptops on the one hand, so the ACPCs, I think 2019 might actually be the year that they start maturing and gaining traction.

So ACPCs are Always Connected laptops that have not just Wi-Fi, but LTE compatibility, and also tend to have very long battery life. So unlike laptops of years past, these laptops tend to have 15 to 20 hour lifespans on one charge, and some of them might even have multi-day batteries. So that’s really good.

The other thing would be possibly the introduction of at least form factors or concepts for smartphones specifically designed for gamers. So slightly thicker, bigger form factors with enhanced graphics, AI and shift set that will be able to allow gamers to use their phones as maybe not their principal gaming platform.

It’s not like they’re going to give up their Xboxes and their PlayStations, but when they’re on the go, they’ll be able to experience enhanced game play that wasn’t really possible. I think those are going to start appearing later this year. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of those models or at least prototypes at CES.

Daniel Newman: Yeah, that sounds very cool. That’s actually something I hadn’t thought much about, because like you, we do a lot more enterprise technology and that tends to be our bigger focus. But of course mobile devices are the absolute epitome of crossover devices as our PCs, as our smart speakers.

This year, there are a couple of trends. For the sake of this show and my crystal ball, I think it’s the year of AI Inside, just like Intel Inside, it’s going to be AI in everything. We’re going to see AI everywhere. Companies are going to be making proclamations about how AI is being utilized to improve their tool, their technology, their software, their wearable. We’re just going to see it in every booth, I think this year. I think it’s going to be so prolific throughout the entire event.

Don’t necessarily think all of it is true AI. I think there’s a lot of automation, a lot of algorithms, a lot of programmatic type of automation that will be acting as AI or as very, very simple AI. But I think we’re going see a lot more of it this year. It’s going to be a common theme.

People want AI powered, or at least they think they do. And so the marketers of CES, because you’ve got to remember it’s a technology show, but it’s really a marketer show. At this year’s show we’re going see it, hear it, and read about AI in everything and everywhere, with every new gadget, gizmo and device that gets launched.

Olivier Blanchard: No, I agree. For our listeners who may not be familiar with this, when we talk about AI, it’s not necessarily like the Watson, super intelligent cognitive computing models. It’s just really basic AI, like the sort of stuff that makes your camera and your phone smart, the kind of stuff that makes your smart speakers able to hear voice commands and recognize them in a busy or a noisy room. That’s AI as well.

And so, AI is inserting itself into power managements in your smartphones. It’s working itself into your apps, into your camera, into your games, into your streaming, into even just the modulation of which bands 4G, 3G, 2G, and hopefully this year, 5G, are being used by what apps and what contents at what time. So yeah, I totally agree, AI Inside I think is probably more the theme for 2019 than 5G.

Daniel Newman: I think 5G, a lot of companies will talk about it, but I think you’re going to see that in a month when we get to Mobile World Congress, and we’ll have a separate conversation and show around that one. We will be there because we won’t miss that opportunity to go to beautiful Barcelona.

But for this first Futurum Tech Podcast of 2019, that is a wrap. Olivier, it has been a lot of fun. Hopefully by next week Fred’s mouth is ready and the golden throat will make his way back to the Futurum Tech Podcast, but either way, we appreciate you tuning in. We hope you subscribe and you’re following us on iTunes or FM Player or SoundCloud, or wherever it is that you get your podcast content. We hope you’re following us there.

It’s going to be a great year. We’re going to be continuing to talk about all things technology, consumer tech, enterprise tech, and like we do so well here, we’re not going to be afraid to call it like we see it because as analysts, that’s what we do and that’s what brings value to the markets we serve. For Futurum Tech Podcasts for week one,

Daniel Newman, your host today with Olivier Blanchard. Thanks for stopping by. Please, if you have comments or feedback, let us know. Hit the subscribe button, share with your friends. Let us know what you’d like to hear about and we will be back next week with a new edition of FTP, The Futurum Tech Podcast.

Disclaimer: The Futurum Tech Podcast is for information and entertainment purposes only. Over the course of this podcast, we may talk about companies that are publicly traded and we may even reference that fact and their equity share price, but please do not take anything that we say as a recommendation about what you should do with your investment dollars. We are not investment advisors and we do not ask that you treat us as such.



Author Information

Daniel is the CEO of The Futurum Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise.

From the leading edge of AI to global technology policy, Daniel makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology investments. Daniel is a top 5 globally ranked industry analyst and his ideas are regularly cited or shared in television appearances by CNBC, Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal and hundreds of other sites around the world.

A 7x Best-Selling Author including his most recent book “Human/Machine.” Daniel is also a Forbes and MarketWatch (Dow Jones) contributor.

An MBA and Former Graduate Adjunct Faculty, Daniel is an Austin Texas transplant after 40 years in Chicago. His speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.


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