Las Vegas ( The Street) -- We're halfway through this year's Consumer Electronics Show, which seems to feature actual new products this year, unlike recent shows. As usual, there are bigger TVs, but there are also some curved ones -- even a bendable one from Samsung. While that's fine for some, the show has been about wearables and autos, and that's something to get excited about.
A number of smartphone and tablet models were shown as well, but those who have been following my views on those markets know that the new announcements only signal that the ante is being upped for those bloodbaths.
I can call it a bloodbath given the recent results from not just Blackberry (BBRY), but also HTC. Oh, and one quick note on those TVs: Before you get all excited and want to pick one up ahead of Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 2), most, if not all, those cutting edge TVs won't be available until much later in 2014.
Like most tech fans, I love to hear about all the new gadgets, as well as compare and contrast them. As I mentioned, even though we are only a few days into 2014, it sounds like this will be the year of wearables and the connected car.
On the wearable front, there are a number of new products from Pebble, Razer, LG, Samsung, Sony (SNE) and others, as well as concept products from Intel (INTC). According to the Consumer Electronics Association, between 75 and 100 wearable devices would be shown at CES this year. While we wait and see what Apple (AAPL) and Google's (GOOG) Motorola will introduce in the coming months, assuming they do so, wearables have the potential to extend the revenue opportunity for what I call digital-consumer devices. With PCs being replaced by tablets, and smartphones on the way to wiping out basic mobile phones, these companies need to expand their footprints and drive revenue growth.
But will it add much? If Apple sold 10 million iWatches (or whatever they may call it) at an average price of $199, that's roughly $2 billion. For many companies that would be a huge shot in the arm, but for Apple, which Wall Street expects to deliver $184.5 billion in revenue this fiscal year, it's little more than a rounding error. Even on the $60 billion or so in revenue that Google is expected to deliver in 2014, $2 billion is just over 3% of revenue. The same can probably be said for Samsung and a few others.
Looking past that, there is another issue: price. Pebble's new Steel smartwatch will sell for $249, which is more expensive than the average new iPhone, Android and other smartphones. The kicker is these so-called smartwatches have few applications and, according to Shawn DuBravac, chief economist for the Consumer Electronics Association, there seems to be no killer app for smart watches -- at least so far.
Will there be early adopters? Sure, there will be. What all of these devices will have in common -- from Samsung to Pebble, and even the Nike (NKE) Fuelband+ that I have on my wrist as I write -- is they all need to connect to your PC, tablet or smartphone. That means connectivity, which in turn means either Bluetooth or WiFi chips and RF semiconductors, as well as sensors. As I am sure Real Money Pro subscribers have come to expect from me by now, that means looking at food-chain companies like Qualcomm (QCOM), Broadcom (BRCM), CSR (CSRE), STMicroelectronics (STM) and others. I've been a fan of QCOM shares for some time, but as I mentioned a few weeks back, CSRE appears poised to exploit the growing demand for Bluetooth chips the most.