The huge annual tech show in Las Vegas known as CES is now history . . . and it's time to start breaking down the winners and losers.
The spectacle in the desert obviously serves as a bellwether for which trends we can expect to dominate the mainstream technology narrative over the coming year. With more than 175,000 attendees and nearly 4,000 exhibitors at CES, we set out to uncover what those trends mean for investors both right now and in the years beyond.
Unsurprisingly, the defining story of this year's show was last year's top buzzword: artificial intelligence. But the breakaway branch of computer science shows no signs of losing steam in the new year, as it increasingly makes its way into more and more applications across both the consumer and enterprise space.
And at the center of the storm is NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA), which in addition to running a sprawling home entertainment business is also designing some of the most in-demand chips used for both developing and applying artificial intelligence today.
In an exciting keynote, the company's enigmatic CEO, Jen-Hsun Huang, announced a slew of important AI-centered ventures -- perhaps the most exciting of which sees the company expanding its partnership with Audi in order to "put the world's most advanced [self-driving] AI car on the road by 2020". It should be noted NVIDIA works with Baidu, Tesla, BMW, and a host of other automakers already. The company also announced a surprise partnership with Google in another massive AI frontier -- virtual assistants, though this time on the hardware end of the equation. The companies are teaming up to bring Google Assistant into multiple rooms of your home, following the lead of Amazon's massively successful Echo and Echo Dot devices.
But for every hit at this year's CES, there were many more misses -- quite literally. Two of the biggest names in 3D printing were missing from this year's show, with 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD) and Stratasys (NASDAQ:SSYS) qualifying as no-shows. Perhaps that doesn't bode well the industry at large -- or perhaps they're simply concentrating their resources as the tumultuous industry prepares to finally break free from the bottom of the hype cycle, as some experts are predicting it soon will. There's no clear answer at this point, but It's something we'll definitely be keeping our eye on throughout the year.
A full transcript follows the video.
Rex Moore: Hi everyone, I'm Motley Fool analyst Rex Moore along with our tech expert at the Fool, Armun Asgari. And CES starting to wind down a bit now, we've seen a lot of things, and we're going to talk a little bit about what is hot here, what is not. What have you seen that maybe is the biggest thing at the show this year?
Armun Asgari: So far, honestly, we've seen two big stories starting to come out, and one is self-driving cars are really hitting the scene hard. We've had almost every automaker come out here, even smaller ones, at least in self-driving, like Hyundai. We got a ride in a Hyundai self-driving car for the first time -- that was awesome.
Another big story that we've seen starting to emerge is virtual assistance. You may know Amazon's Echo and Alexa, even Siri on your phone. But we're starting to see a lot of other players kind of infringe into that scene, but I think the common thread between those things is artificial intelligence. The biggest player we know about in artificial intelligence -- clearly NVIDIA starting to dig their fingers more and more, kind of in both those things. NVIDIA with some big shocker announcements from CEO Jen-Hsun Huang last night took a lot of people by storm. Too many partnerships, too many product announcements to go over now, biggest story I've seen so far.
As far as what's not so hot, Rex, I think you had a little bit of something there.
Moore: Well do you remember 3D printing everyone?
Asgari: I think everybody remembers 3D printing, maybe not in the happiest light.
Moore: It's been a rough period for them. This year at CES, one of the big stories is that the two biggest players, 3D Systems and Stratasys are no-shows. There's been a leadership change at 3D Systems -- I guess both players just decided they wanted to spend resources elsewhere other than coming here to CES. I did talk to some experts who have covered this industry for almost 30 years, TCT Magazine, and they're saying maybe this is a good thing. The boom is over; the bust may be over now. Stock prices have leveled off and even outpaced the S&P in recent months. So maybe 3D printing is a place we can, dare I say it, look at again some time in the future.
Asgari: Maybe, maybe, maybe.
Moore: Alright folks. Thanks for joining us here at CES. We'll have lots of stuff in the weeks to come as we break down this massively huge conference. Thanks for joining us.
Asgari: Fool on!
Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Armun Asgari has no position in any stocks mentioned. Rex Moore owns shares of Alphabet (A shares) and Alphabet (C shares). The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Amazon.com, Baidu, Nvidia, and Tesla Motors. The Motley Fool recommends 3D Systems, BMW, and Stratasys. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.