3 Major Tech Trends to Watch at This Year's CES

Breaking down the must-watch trends that will dominate CES 2014

Jan 6, 2014 at 8:05PM

This year's Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, kicks off tomorrow, and tech investors everywhere should be paying apt attention.

For those unfamiliar with it, the CES is one of the, if not the, top trade shows for the technology industry as a whole. Each January, many of the world's most important tech companies (and a healthy crop of up-and-comers) descend on Las Vegas to highlight the latest gadgets, gizmos, and other game-changers that should dominate the tech industry in 2014 and beyond.

So as we head into the first must-watch event for the tech industry this year, let's take look at several key topics that investors should expect to dominate the discourse at CES 2014 and the companies behind them.

#1 – 3-D Printing
This one's a bit of a no-brainer as 3-D printing remains one of the most widely discussed disruptive trends of recent years, and for good reason.

Cubex Trio

Source: 3D Systems

As the industry powering what some dub the coming "third industrial revolution," CES 2014 will dedicate 7,000 square feet  to the products and companies behind this tech mega trend. By far, the best known companies in this space are 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD) and Stratasys (NASDAQ:SSYS).

Although 3D Systems and Stratasys have been rewarding shareholders for years, they present investors today with the classic growth investors' dilemma. Having absolutely trounced the market over recent time horizons, 3D Systems and Stratasys are expectedly pricey at 20x and 15x their last 12 month's revenue, respectively . But even as these growth giants edge slowly tap into their blossoming profit pool, it will take years (not months) for 3D Systems and Stratasys to realize their full potential.

And with the prospect of selling as few as 100,000  3D printers this year, by some estimates 3D Systems and Stratasys are stocks trading a the rosiest of valuations. Valuations aside, 3D printing, and names like 3D Systems and Stratasys, will certainly loom large at this years' CES.

#2 – Wearables
Wearable tech is another emerging growth space in technology and will assuredly be a major focal point of CES this year.

Of course, Samsung (NASDAQOTH:SSNLF) and Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) have already introduced products in this space. Samsung's Galaxy Gear and Qualcomm's Toq smartwatches made their debuts last year despite their fair share of skepticism.

However since their launches, Samsung and Qualcomm have done plenty to substantiate the notion that smartwatches, and wearables more broadly, are indeed a viable market. For example, Samsung shocked plenty of people (myself included) when it announced it had sold 800,000 Galaxy Gear smartwatches in November.

Galaxy Gear

Source: Samsung

Beyond Samsung and Qualcomm, almost everyone expect tech behemoth Apple to also enter the smartwatch in 2014 with its much-discussed iWatch. And although predicting Apple's future product plans is a parlor game of sort, the market for smartwatches is expected to grow to roughly 1.5 million shipments this year and be another major area of attention at CES this week.

#3 – Ultra HD TV
With 3D TV having largely gone the way of the Dodo, the television industry might have just found its next major growth driver with ultra high definition 4K TV.

Ultra HD was a prominent trend at last year's CES, and this year's CES should see a number of high-profile product launches centered around the ultra HD 4K standard as well. Expect TV kingpins like Samsung, Sony, and LG to roll out their best and brightest sets in hopes of once again convincing the tech community that Ultra HD TV is indeed the next big thing.


Source: LG

The standard will get some support from the critical content providers  like Netflix this year, but given the huge costs associated with these devices, I'm still somewhat skeptical the time for Ultra HD is now.

Instead, I'm more interested transformative potential that better integrated software could have on the global television market. In that spirit, LG is set to use this year's CES as a venue to highlight its redesigned version of the WebOS mobile operating system  for its smart televisions. Rather than simply cramming more pixels into each square inch of display space, to me, rolling out new software enabled televisions represents a compelling enough innovation to actually help drive a major refresh cycle in the broader television space.

Summing it all up
The CES is an event all about the future – what the technology industry has in store for 2014 and the years come.

For tech investors this provides us with perhaps the best glimpse into the areas and innovations where the companies we discuss on a daily basis see new opportunity. Just as hockey great Wayne Gretzky implored, tech investors should also want to skate where the puck is going.

And that is precisely why we should all be watching the CES this week.

6 new must-watch growth stocks
They said it couldn't be done. But David Gardner has proved them wrong time, and time, and time again with stock returns like 926%, 2,239%, and 4,371%. In fact, just recently one of his favorite stocks became a 100-bagger. And he's ready to do it again. You can uncover his scientific approach to crushing the market and his carefully chosen 6 picks for ultimate growth instantly, because he's making this premium report free for you today. Click here now for access.

Fool contributor Andrew Tonner owns shares of Apple. Follow Andrew and all his writing on Twitter at @AndrewTonnerThe Motley Fool recommends 3D Systems, Apple, Netflix, and Stratasys. The Motley Fool owns shares of 3D Systems, Apple, Netflix, Qualcomm, and Stratasys and has the following options: short January 2014 $20 puts on 3D Systems. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of fool.com.

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to www.fool.com/beginners, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at www.fool.com/podcasts.

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.

Compare Brokers