CES 2015 Report: Internet of Things, FrenchTech, and Zappos rules

Cities, Markets



February 5, 2015

The CES 2015 in Las Vegas broke all records with 170,000 attendees, so here’s our CES 2015 Report, from a dual perspective of a French entrepreneur and, as my partner says, “escort boy of corporates into the startup world”. Consumer electronic show (ces) 2015 report – Wearables, robots, smart home, and zappos ecosystem in las […]

The CES 2015 in Las Vegas broke all records with 170,000 attendees, so here’s our CES 2015 Report, from a dual perspective of a French entrepreneur and, as my partner says, “escort boy of corporates into the startup world”.


The FrenchTech was everywhere at the CES 2015

I’ve taken some time to write the long story of the FrenchTech and its success in Las Vegas, but here are the key takeaways:

  • a lots of change happened over the last 2-3 years in France, with new players at all levels: media, events, government, coworking, and as a result, startups who gain traction and significant traction.
  • the FrenchTech umbrella brand is now recognized, active and has an interesting diversity of actors, from government officials (Acting secretary of state for the digital economy Axelle Lemaire as well as her boss, the ministry of economy & finance, attended the CES 2015), regional clusters (a lot of French startups at CES came from 2nd and 3rd tier cities such as Niort, Grenoble, Clermont-Ferrand..).
  • With 120 startups in the show, France has the 5th global rank, and 1st, by far, among its European counterparts. Cocorico! Many of these companies were credible, with some traction, clients, and some were innovative SMEs. It means less chance to be a billion dollar company, but I personally don’t care: SMEs have clients and profitability (and job creation) before startups.

FrenchTEch CES Las Vegas 2015 innovation is everywhere martin pasquier 1


Robotics, Smart Home and Internet of Things rule… But where are the designers?

Again this year, a lot of robots, devices to make your home, car, pet (?) smart, but after seeing dozens of replicas and variations, I can’t help to feel a bit disappointed by this top trend of the CES 2015 edition.

The design of most of these sexy automated things is nonexistant. Interfaces are clumsy and cluttered. Who has the time to check 50+ trigger for a smart home?

CES 2015 report innovation is everywhere smart home robotics wearables zappos martin pasquier

The scary robots of the CES 2015

Robots are probably the worse, looking like they escaped a second range sci-fi movie. If we are to embed these technologies in our home, and we won’t be changing them too often, it has to be designed for users, not for nerds or for the sake of whatever alliance of partners is backing the whole thing.


Interoperability and internationalisation: the two challenges of technologies at the CES 2015

We’re now familiar with the concept of platform and ecosystems, thanks to the software world startups and companies. There’s still a huge question mark on whether the Smart Home technologies we saw in Las Vegas could find a common standard, and this question is worth for at least two levels.


Z wave alliance ces 2015 las vegas wrap-up ces 2015 report innovation is everywhere martin pasquier

Smart Home Alliances: As simple as that

A first level of non-interoperability lies in the technology used to connect all the devices of the Smart Home. Z-Wave, Zigbee, Home Automation or Open Home are 4 different alliances which had booths and stand at the Consumer Electronic Show.

Each ecosystem has its own norms, startups, features, which are rarely compatible with the other alliances.

It makes zero sense from a user perspective, and likely not much more from the brands’ either. These forced friendships do sometime list a lot of partners, but it’s hard to see one work better than the other as there’s no key difference.

It’s probably gold for Apple or Google who are more used to act as platforms than these proprietary-friendly big companies. I’m not sure something will emerge soon.

The second level of non-interoperability is the global market. Most, if not all the technologies we’ve seen were targeting the big, unified, and pretty much standardised American market.

From a European perspective, it’s a no-go: sockets, plugs, locks, windows, and regulation are all but standards in Europe, where each market has its own history.

It’s hard to see how even these big, very exposed companies could be soon in our homes on the Old Continent. The same goes then with many other Smart Home alliances and companies, some of which were by the way direct enough to tell us, French visitors, they did not have too much time to lose with us.


The CES is for consumers, and few startups think of B2B

It’s half a surprise. As we work at Innovation is Everywhere with companies who are looking for startups to work with, we often face a lack of B2B culture (or even roadmap) with startups we meet and talk to.

The CES 2015 is no exception: most startups are not ready at all to deal with big B2B customers, which is really surprising. Selling to consumers is a traditional fantasy of startups, even though it’s a tough market, with high acquisition costs.

CES 2015 report innovation noke fuz smart lock is everywhere smart home robotics wearables zappos martin pasquier

The Noke smart lock and its app to manage a fleet of locks…No clear B2B strategy despite a killer feature for utility managers, janitors and real estate developers.

On the other hand, it takes as much time to get one B2B client, but it would then buy a lot more units of the technology sold. From smart locks to thermal cameras and even to smart mattresses, we rarely found anyone ready to test and try their product on, say, 20 hotels and see how to scale up from there.


Beyond the CES itself, Las Vegas is an amazing startup city in the making

We took some time to visit the startup ecosystem of Las Vegas, well known since Zappos is headquartered there.

During a guided tour on the day before the CES actually began, we visited three spots which shows the dynamism of the Las Vegas scene, in particular as part of the Downtown project, a $350 million investment by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh to revitalise the stranded downtown area of Vegas.

the downtown project las vegas tony hsieh zappos martin pasquier innovation is everywhere virtuous ecosystem zappotopia

From coworking spaces to the Zappos customer-focused culture, up to the Container Park for micro-entrepreneurs needing a brick and mortar space, we saw a lot of really cool things which makes a lot of sense.

Ecosystem building in a part of the city which has been hit by the crisis is a long-term effort, so we’ll check the results of this investment in a few years. So far, out of the $350m envelope, $200m will go to real estate so that Zappos can operate the space, $100m to support startups and $50m to support SMEs.

We’re really supportive of such a local-centric approach which can create jobs and a culture of startups to serve the specific needs of a fast-growing city with a lot of issues on urban planning, water management and breaking its dependency to tourism and gambling.

In 2016, come with us!

It’s pretty clear we’ll come again in 2016. Conversations about the “end of the CES”, supposed to be too big and messy an event, don’t convince us at all.

It’s an amazing place to meet creative technologists, giant companies on a lot of industries which are step by step connecting to each other.

Does it make sense to see Twitter, BMW, Lowe and Zappos in one place? Yes it does!