The 2014 Consumer Electronics Show was filled with interesting, revolutionary new tech products. Unfortunately, many of them will never see the light of day. Others will make it to the market, but won't have a major impact on the tech landscape.
But a few could be quite significant, ultimately having huge effects on a number of publicly traded tech firms. Based on the products shown at this years' CES, NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA), Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), GameStop (NYSE:GME), Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL), and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) are the companies that stand to see the biggest impacts on their businesses.
NVIDIA unveils revolutionary new mobile chip
As the market for traditional PCs has declined, chipmaker NVIDIA has branched out into mobile processors -- NVIDIA's Tegra mobile chips power a number of tablets, including Microsoft's Surface RT and Surface 2.
NVIDIA unveiled the Tegra K1, its new mobile chip, at the CES last week. As expected, NVIDIA's new chip is better than its last, but the Tegra K1's performance stands out. According to some early benchmark comparisons (via Slash Gear), NVIDIA's new chip is by far the fastest mobile ever, outperforming even some Intel chips intended for traditional PCs.
NVIDIA's Tegra K1 could find its way into many Android-powered tablets and various cars' infotainment systems, as well as Google's widely rumored upcoming Nexus TV set-top box and Android video game console.
Intel diversifies with lineup of wearables
Intel will be hoping that tablet-makers choose its chips over NVIDIA's in 2014, but the Dow components focus this year at CES was on new wearable technology. Intel's new CEO, Brian Krzanich, unveiled nearly half a dozen different wearable gadgets last week, including a smartwatch, earbuds, and a headset. More significant than the actual gadgets themselves, however, was Intel's new "Edison" chip that powered them.
Given the ongoing decline in the market for traditional PCs, and the fierce competition among mobile chip makers, Intel's new push into wearables could become a major part of the company in the coming years.
Sony unveils the future of video game distribution
Sony's big announcement at CES wasn't a physical object, but rather a service. Later this year, Sony will launch "PlayStation Now" -- an on-demand, subscription-based video game service that gives gamers access to a catalog of older PlayStation titles.
Similar to Netflix, these games will be streamed digitally over the Internet, delivered to subscribers' Sony HDTVs, tablets, smartphones or PlayStation 4 video game consoles. Rather than purchase games individually, PlayStation Now allows for a radical new future, one where video games are delivered as a service rather than a product.
It's hard to see where GameStop fits in that future. As primarily a retailer of physical game discs, GameStop is challenged by the shift to digital. Although GameStop's management has said it will work with Sony to sell subscriptions to its new service, the company has an established track record of hostility to video game streaming.
Microsoft challenged by Google-powered devices
Microsoft didn't announce anything major at this year's CES, but the company's future looks to be affected by the products of firms that did. Both Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo -- the world's largest PC OEMs -- unveiled desktops powered by Google's Android.
Microsoft's Windows business has already come under pressure as more consumers buy Android-powered tablets in place of traditional PCs. But Google's operating system entering the desktop market is a new development, and one that could cut the demand for Windows licenses. This year's CES also brought other challenges to Windows in the form of more Chromebooks -- cheap laptops running Google's web-dependent Chrome operating system. Toshiba unveiled its Chromebook, joining a long and growing list of major PC OEMs that have rolled out Chromebooks in recent months.
The winners and losers
NVIDIA and Intel were the clear winners of this year's CES, with both companies' new chips promising growth in a post-PC world. Microsoft and GameStop were the biggest losers, as both firms' former allies showed that they're becoming competitors -- Microsoft's OEMs by embracing Google's operating systems, Sony by shifting from GameStop's supplier to a major competitor.