CES 2019: Apple’s other trade show

Apple has a huge presence at CES with iTunes for Samsung TVs, HomeKit device launches and a strong security message.

Apple, CES 2019, iPhone, Samsung, iTunes, Security, HomeKit
Mark Hachman/IDG

One week into 2019, and Apple just plugged the news gap with a series of major announcements that put it at the center of a trade show event it doesn’t even exhibit at: CES 2019.

What stays on iPhone

The first warning that 2019 won’t be like every other Consumer Electronics Show came when Twitter was set ablaze with news of Apple’s well-targeted attack ad on the outskirts of the show.

The ad — a huge 13-story black billboard — is emblazoned with the slogan:

“What happens on your iPhone stays on your iPhone,” a clear reference to Apple’s industry-leading status when it comes to protecting user privacy on its devices.

While the usual critics swiftly moved to note the handful of occasions that protection has failed, the objective truth is that Apple is moving fast to give customers more control of what data they share with third parties than any other platform.

The move follows Apple CEO Tim Cook’s key speech on privacy and surveillance in Europe; it also comes as consumers all over the planet are waking up to the security and privacy threats of poorly secured connected devices across every enterprise and every home.

Apple hosts HomeKit event at CES

Apple’s decision to hoist that billboard has relevance across smartphone and Internet of Things (IoT) markets and is clearly part of a wider push by the company.

Just before CES 2019 opened its doors, Apple hosted a special press event during which it demonstrated HomeKit-compatible smart connected home devices from some of the most innovative firms in that sector: Belkin Wemo, Eve, ConnectSense, Kwikset locks, Nanoleaf and Netatmo, among others.

Products on show included light switches, smart lights and plugs, smart locks, doorbells, and temperature sensors. CES 2019 is witnessing a series of HomeKit-compatible product announcements.

In order to carry the Made for HomeKit brand mark, device manufacturers are required to follow some stringent guidelines, including the promise of strong security for those devices.

Apple’s decision to demand manufacturers follow these guidelines generated some criticism and arguably slowed development of the company's HomeKit ecosystem, but history will show that this was the right approach.

It is completely inappropriate that unregulated corporations be entitled to place devices that gather intrusive data concerning user habits in people’s homes and offices.

It is also clear that every connected system you deploy in any situation becomes a potential attack vector, so maintaining high security standards should be one of the biggest concerns of anyone looking to deploy smart home, office or infrastructure kit.

Television people

Apple’s big push to grab headlines at the beginning of the year continued with news from Samsung and Vizio in which both smart TV manufacturers confirmed Apple’s systems will integrate with their own.

Apple has itself confirmed this support will extend to TV sets from other manufacturers.

This means:

  • AirPlay 2 compatiblity
  • Use of your iPhone as a remote control for some television sets, including Siri support
  • Inclusion of an iTunes Movies and TV app on smart televisions

If there’s an enterprise angle to this news, it might be that in making this move Apple is demonstrating its willingness to explore new partnerships and new business agreements as it seeks out growth and entry points into new markets. 

This kind of strategic agility seems a good thing for any enterprise to emulate, and it reflects the depth and rigor of the company’s strategic response to the inevitable move to life after iPhones.

Apple’s shadow will be felt all across CES 2019, with other sectors of interest, including connected health, artificial intelligence and augmented reality solutions. Chatter on the show floor will also likely reflect a recently disclosed Apple patent for smart textiles, which may have a bearing on its future intent.

I do find it quite interesting that within days of my arguing that Apple needs to reclaim the media initiative, the company has made a range of announcements (some good, some bad) that seem to accomplish precisely that as its other trade show opens its doors.

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