CES 2014 retrospective: It’s all about third party developers


So here we are folks, a month after what I would call a truly magnificent and grand experience: CES 2014! The Consumer Electronics Show is held each year in early January in Las Vegas. It is the largest convention of consumer electronics in North America and is, by far, the most awe inspiring mecca of tech I have ever personally attended. The sights! The sounds! And the unimaginably cool 3D printing! As one of over 150,000 attendees each year, I feel beholden to share my insights and experience.

I’ve been attending CES since 2011, witness to three years of reality altering, body tracking, and eye dazzling technical wizardry spread across 1 million square feet of showcases and trend setting centers of glory. Although these annual events never cease to amaze, this year’s CES 2014 left me feeling slightly less giddy, a little more empty, and a bit more sympathetic to the reality of the average consumer.

During the 4 hour road trip back to sunny SoCal, I always ask myself the following two questions: “What does all this amount to, and how is this going to change my immediate future?” Because honestly, what good is it to me today, tomorrow, or even this year to see a $40,000 short throw projector that I have the same chance of affording as I do a Rolls Royce? Certainly, the drooling helps ward off the eventual dehydration that ensues after walking 15 plus miles each day during the event. But when I come home and sit down to cuddle with my apartment-sized pit bull to watch Netflix on my 50” Samsung Plasma (now, nearly 5 years old, which in TV years makes her Betty White), I reflect on the many products I saw showcased and consider which have the potential to truly redefine the way I live?


Tech giants such as Samsung, LG, Sony, Panasonic and others take up most of the spotlight, as they deserve. They put in the big bucks to get the big results and their showcases are to die for. However, there are a couple hundred thousand square feet of independent, “no name”, “third party” manufacturers who get almost no coverage in the mainstream. And along the outskirts of these supposed badlands of technology is where I found my answer this year. These are the producers of tech we use the most frequently. They make our lives simpler and put technology within our reach. Many are even a part of the same production and assembly facilities as your favorite “name brand” headphones and connectivity business monsters. To summarize, third party manufacturers and developers streamline the ability to produce quality goods at a fraction of the cost they were only a few short years ago.

It’s important, then,  to walk down the aisles beyond the glitz and dazzle of the big boys who take up the brightly-lit spotlight of the convention center’s South Hall, and to seek out the booths and products of the quieter manufactures. It’s here I enjoyed browsing the “off brand” goods from at least 40 different companies based in China.


Third party developers provide average consumers the items they really need, and at prices we can afford comfortably. And what they specialize in is making your top requested items of today for half the price, or less.

Although less impressive than their larger counterparts, they offer pathways that are just as essential to life, gradually changing the landscape on an equally significant scale. And this is how I view third party companies; the lifeblood of the tech world and the unsung heroes of mass electronics production.


Third party developers help us get our computers, televisions, gaming systems, and fitness trackers all at lower costs. It might not be their name on the casings by the time its gets into your hands, but you’d be hard pressed to find a larger company who hasn’t adopted a method of production or gateway to materials that didn’t originate from one of these little guys. They might even be so lucky as to have a contract to produce the memory in one of your devices!

So say what you will and scoff all you want about a no-name brand that offers something almost as nice as your favorite tech. Undeniably, third party developers are changing the way we live today and tomorrow as much as any brand name company. As for me and my new vision of what makes this modern world go round thanks to CES, I’m going to keep watching my Betty White until I find an amazing deal on a similar, albeit off-brand product, and take advantage of  owning the right tech for right now and at the right price.

Third-party developer websites:





About Author

Having worked in retail tech sales for the better part of a decade, Steve has been on the front lines of consumer electronics and seeing their impact on modern culture. From his humble beginnings at Circuit City, Stephen has gone on to help introduce the Nook eReader and tablet to the world, and to manage a store at RadioShack. Currently, he is working for AT&T Mobility. One of Steve’s goals is to bridge the gap that can exist between what a “techie” thinks is important in a device or service and what is important and practical for the average consumer.

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