Investor Agenda

CES: The Innovative Edge Is Seen in 3D


This year's Consumer Electronics Showcomes at a time when the economy is recovering and job losses are perhaps peaking. According to Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, there is "tremendous optimism" this year. Shapiro added that it's the first time in a while that Las Vegas hotels have been fully booked.

Other firsts at CES, 330 new exhibitors and 12 new tech zones out of 22. Overall, there were more than 330 companies and more than 2,500 exhibitors. Also with more than 20,000 new products on display, Shapiro is also seeing a lot more innovation, saying that "the recession has forced companies to step up, innovate or die."

One concern he has though the government's actions or inactions could restrict innovation. Shapiro said the main areas were immigration and trade. He's hoping that Washington will pass free trade bills with Columbia, Panama and Korea. That will "allow the best and the brightest to come here." The other innovation killers in Shapiro's view are the health care bill and huge tax increases.

Entertainment's Next Dimension

Like the ‘Avatar’ 3D experience at the movie theater? If a host of companies at the Consumer Electronics Show have their way, 3D will be as commonplace as the remote control. The biggest deal right now surrounds a plan by Discovery Communications, IMAX, and Sony to launch a 3-D television channel. ESPN has also said it will develop 3D technology, while DreamWorks is working on new movies for release in the theater and for the home that feature 3-D.

"3-D is the next step in bringing content closer to real life for viewers," said Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav in an interview with Maria Bartiromo today. He’s convinced 3-D will translate to television, despite being only modestly successful on the big screen.

DreamWorks is also pursuing an in-home 3D strategy through a partnership with Samsung, which will roll out a line of home electronics including TVs, DVD players and glasses. As part of the deal, DreamWorks Animation will package the soon-to-be released 3D version of "Monsters vs. Aliens" with Samsung devices. It’s just one example of a technology that could prove to be transformative for the film industry. Of the 300 theatrical releases in 2009, 10 were released in 3-D.

“Right now the big growth is at the box office,” explained DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg in another interview with Maria at CES. “3D won’t migrate that quickly to the home environment.” That strategy is a big bet for DreamWorks. Mr. Katzenberg is working toward releasing three feature-length 3-D movies this year.

Technology manufacturers and content producers are always looking for a blockbuster. At the Consumer Electronics Show, they’re hoping they’ve found it in the third dimension.

Sony's 3D TV Push

This week tech heavyweights such as Sony, Discovery and IMAX announced plans to introduce a 3D channel in 2011. The joint venture would create shows to air 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the U.S. At CES in an exclusive interview, Maria Bartiromo spoke with Sony Chairman & CEO Sir Howard Stringerabout the firm's focus on 3D. Stringer told Bartiromo "3D is a bandwagon that's hard to avoid at CES this year."

CES '10 - Your Digital Life - A CNBC Special Report

For Sony, 3D could mean big business. According to the Consumer Electronics Association, 4.3 million 3D compatible TV sets will be sold this year. By 2013, such TVs will account for more than 25% of all sales.

Outside of CES, Sony has been looking to boost sales while improving their balance sheet. Stringer told Bartiromo "Sony has to continue cutting costs, while delivering innovative products. The minute Sony is profitable again, we can start hiring."

If CES is any preview to the success of Sony and 3D entertainment in general, the horizon looks bright for both.

Be sure to tune into Closing Bell today as we continue our live coverage from NBC Universal Booth at CES.

Dorian Langlais, John Cook Donna Burton and Liza Tan all contributed to this article.



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