This year he gave six tours of 40 people, mostly big advertisers
hoping to understand the changes afoot and how technology is
changing the way consumers live -- and the way they receive and
interact with commercial messages.
On the floor, Mr. Gotlieb cuts the figure of a wizard, winding
his way through the crowds and throwing out words such as "quantum
dot technology" and "gallion phosphor." The tour starts at Sony,
moves along to Samsung, LG, Panasonic, Dish Network and finally Intel, which is
about to become a big player in TV when it rolls out its planned
web TV service.
Along the way, he offers unvarnished opinions:
On Sony: "The last major innovation out of Sony was the
Trinitron and the Walkman."
On connected cars: "The automakers aren't the best guys to be
making consumer interfaces."
On Microsoft (a client): "Clearly Windows 8 is a
disappointment, but it is not a disappointment because of lack of
On Qualcomm: "The
smartphone you buy in the next few months is going to be more
powerful than the laptop you bought last year."
On LG's 55-inch OLED TV: "The best screen you can buy for your
On reading the tea leaves: "CES isn't only about what's here,
but the signals sent by who isn't here."
Given Mr. Gotlieb's interests, and his profession, the tour is
heavily skewed toward TVs; that $10,000 LG will be $1,000 within a
few years. The giant demo models that cost millions and weigh tons
today will be in households tomorrow. Want to know how close a demo
TV is to a model you can hang on your wall? Mr. Gotlieb's tip: look
at the supporting structure --if it's big, it means it's going to
be a while before it won't collapse your house.
Mr. Gotlieb will be the first to tell you that his 90-minute
tour only scratches the surface. That's why he gives homework,
specifying things tour-goers should come back to. He jokes that
Group M has set cookies on their headsets so they know if they've
done their assignments. "If you don't do your homework, you will
hear from us," he says, mostly in jest.
Mr. Gotlieb also happens to be the most-enthusiastic consumer of
cutting-edge technology. His next TV? A 4K Sony projector. For his
house, Mr. Gotlieb wants the LG closet that steam cleans clothes
and shakes them wrinkle-free. "I want this in my home but they
won't ship it to the U.S."
As always, Mr. Gotlieb wraps his tour at the entrance to the
center hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center where, for as long
as he can remember, two titans of tech -- Intel and Microsoft --
had dominant positions at the entrance to the show.
This year, that entrance signals another changing of the guard.
Intel is still there, but Microsoft is gone. In its place is
HiSense, an electronics company run by the Chinese government. Mr.
Gotlieb says they actually do a good job of building decent
equipment but for half the price of their competitors. They remind
him of a once-unknown Korean company that now dominates the
"This is a company no one has heard of," he said." "They don't
know what branding is. They look like Samsung 10 years ago."