CES 2014 was, of course, another year with a glaring lack of Microsoft and Apple, but the rest of the tech world was out in full force.
It was also an insight into how the conference has developed over the past few years. Of the 11,000 or so stands at the conference the usual categories dominated; consumer electronics, software and hardware and mobile devices all had more than 1,500 stands each in Vegas. However, who would have thought even a year ago that either health or the automotive industries would have more than 400 stands a piece? Never has electronics been so ingrained in everything we do, and so interconnected. We're officially in the "internet of everything" era now.
These events are renowned for pulling together a collection of wow technology that never sees the light of day, given their cost to produce on a large global scale. But we can but dream.
Intel showcased the new Intel Edison chip embedded in a baby's vest that was connected to a milk-warmer that would start warming bottles when the baby started to wake. It would also monitor the baby's sleep and temperature patterns, giving parents a deeper insight into the world of their children.
LG showcased a back cover to its mobile phone that heals itself, by resealing any starches and blemishes. Anybody who has ever owned a flagship mobile device knows just how much peace of mind this will bring.
And then Polaroid brought the nostalgia back through its new Socialmatic device – a social camera/printer hybrid (but whether the new investment was well spent in creating its own TVs and tablets remains to be seen).
A top trend I've noticed at CES this year is just how many of the most exciting innovations are continuing to come out of younger entrepreneurial businesses. A good example is Eyelock, which has developed iris recognition software to challenge traditional fingerprint technology.
This will be a space of real growth in 2014, especially when you later hear a senior Samsung executive confirming they are hoping to integrate retinal ID into their 2014 mobile devices. Or you look at the brilliant success of the Pebble Smartwatch, funded through Kickstarter in 2013, and now standing credibly alongside some of the biggest brands in the world in the smartwatch category.
But despite all that, true product differentiation was hard to find. You couldn't help but feel that the same stories were being told but with different logos stamped in the corners. Most are shouting about the same innovations, so for the consumers, brand and price still remain the critical battles to be won in the technology war.
Everywhere you looked it was 4k TVs, curved screens, wearable technology, SMART screens. Amazing technology when you see them in action but still with lots of consumer education to be done to make them viable decision tipping points.
This remains a big challenge for a sector that is typically led by product rather than marketing teams. This though can be seen as huge opportunity on the other hand, as standing out is possibly easier than it has ever been.
So perhaps the winner in 2014 will not be the one with the biggest screen, the smartest technology or even the one that bends the most, but the one that stands out through building a clear and valuable emotional connection through the brand stories it tells.
Richard Costa-D'sa is managing director at Jam.
This article originally appeared on the website of Marketing.