Three takeaways from CES

Execs at Google, Microsoft, and Pinterest on what to expect this year.
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Francis Scialabba

· 4 min read

Tell someone in the tech industry that you’re going to CES in Las Vegas, and chances are they’ll respond with raised eyebrows and a knowing sigh. That’s because CES is billed as the world’s biggest and most influential tech conference—and the four-day event is typically equal parts exciting and overwhelming.

Last week was my third time reporting on the ground from CES, and something felt different—it seemed like the conference was finally back in full force, after one all-virtual year and one year with significantly reduced attendance. This year’s event drew in 115,000+ attendees and 1,000+ exhibitors from 20+ countries.

While there, I chatted with execs at a range of companies about their biggest tech takeaways from 2022—and their tech investment priorities for this year. Here are three points that stuck with me.

These interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

Erik Kay, VP of engineering for communications products, at Google

It’s really all about these multi-device experiences, and it’s a really big bet for Android generally. It’s where people are right now—we’re surrounded by devices in real life, and the phone is still kind of at the center of that. So we’re working on a whole bunch of new technology and features that make it easier for those devices to connect with each other, for you to have seamless experiences where you’re moving the same activity from one device to the next. Doing that takes a lot of technology. There’s security, encryption, privacy, proximity, underlying connectivity stacks, device discovery, and lots of really important underpinning things. And then on top, once you have that core capability, then we can layer on these things like smart audio switching, Nearby Share, and we can bring some of these things to third parties as well.

Sanjay Ravi, GM of automotive, mobility, and transportation at Microsoft

When you buy a car, you can offer a lot of services that you can monetize today, but frankly, in six months or a year, there might be a lot of new content capabilities that you can offer to the consumers and charge them for that. And software-defined vehicles help you configure the vehicles with updates even while they’re on the road…And [another takeaway is] when you get all the data—of course, with the consent of the consumer—you can use the data to do two things…provide a richer experience to the consumer…and use the data to drive a lot of B2B revenue-generation opportunities. Pay-as-you-go insurance is one of the more proven data monetization opportunities. And there will be a lot of evolution that’s going to happen in that space where data can be used by different players like telco companies, insurance companies, and even cities, to drive monetization.

Bill Watkins, CRO at Pinterest

At the enterprise level, we have three core focus areas this year: user growth and engagement, shopping, and monetization…On the second area, shopping, a majority of our “pinners” are telling us that they come to the platform not just to get inspired, but also to shop. We’ve got nearly half a billion users around the world, but just as interesting, we have hundreds of billions of pins, or objects, that have been organized into single-digit billions of collections, or boards…At that scale, it’s our responsibility to make shopping ubiquitous on the platform...Almost 600 million of the products that we have ingested link directly to a checkout destination with the merchant…[Also], we will absolutely continue to reinvest in computer vision. Basically anything that can train off of the dataset that we have, that can render better results for our pinners, we will be heavily investing in into next year, because it will help further all three of our enterprise-level investments.

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