Once again, Axios packs up and heads to Vegas for CES.
In today's Login, we offer a preview of what to expect both in terms of substance and rhetoric. And we do it all in 1,390 words, a 5-minute read.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
CES, the annual January trade show in Las Vegas, is many things: a great place to catch up with leaders from throughout the tech industry, a decent chance to spot broad trends and an opportunity to hear stump speeches from big-name CEOs trying to get their companies seen as tech leaders.
What it's not, though, is a place for the most important tech announcements of the year. Companies like Apple, Google and Samsung prefer to launch key products in a less noisy environment, at their own private events.
Yes, but: Of course there will be plenty of product news at the show.
The big picture: One key role for CES these days is as a showcase for companies and leaders who aren't known for being at the forefront of technology — but want to be.
Between the lines: CES is traditionally devoted to the worship of novel tech. It will be fascinating to see how the show copes with today's changed environment, in which the public is increasingly interested not just in seeing new gadgets, but in how new products affect security, privacy and human rights.
What's new: There will be a few new conference tracks added this year addressing topics such as gaming, voice, drones and tourism. The list speaks to how diverse (and perhaps how bloated) the conference has gotten.
While we don't yet know the full details of everything that will be unveiled at CES this year, we have a pretty good idea of who will be making the announcements and the types of products to expect.
Why it matters: Vegas during CES is a noisy place. It pays to know which direction to point your ears.
Traditional consumer electronics firms: Expect the Samsungs, Sonys and LGs of the world to dazzle us with giant TVs few people can afford, including wall-size displays, sets that can roll and fold and screens sporting 8K resolution.
Appliances: Sometimes some of the most interesting new devices at CES are high-end takes on home appliances. A few years back, it was multiplex washing machines. This year, it could be AI-equipped fridges.
PC makers: Expect all the big computer makers to unveil new models. Dell isn't even waiting until Vegas. On Thursday it announced a new 5G-equipped laptop and improved software for connecting its PCs with iOS devices.
Automotive: CES has been a prime venue for automakers for some time, with all the big names eager to show just how tech-forward their new models will be. We'll also be hearing about super-light vehicles, with Uber set to make some announcements, as well as Segway-Ninebot.
Component makers: The leading chipmakers, including Qualcomm, Nvidia, Intel and more, will all have a significant presence.
Social media: The big social companies are mostly absent or marginal at CES. Snapchat, TikTok and other major social media companies aren't expected to have major presences like they do at conferences like VidCon and Cannes.
Government speakers: Most federal officials canceled their appearances last year due to the government shutdown, but several administration leaders are expected in Vegas this year.
Apple: As usual, Apple won't have its own spot on the show floor, but its presence will be felt, both in terms of accessories and in the influence its designs and products hold over many competitors' offerings.
Richard Plepler, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon. Photos: Gary Gershoff/FilmMagic, Steve Granitz/WireImage, Taylor Hill/Getty Images
Apple's new streaming service is only beginning to take shape, but what's quite clear is the company's willingness to spend big for top Hollywood talent, as Sara reports.
Why it matters: Analysts have for years predicted that Apple, with lots of free cash flow, would one day buy a content company like Netflix or HBO to fulfill its streaming ambitions. But Apple's recent investments in individual producers, actors and directors suggest the Silicon Valley titan is heading in a different direction.
Driving the news: Former HBO boss Richard Plepler has secured a five-year exclusive deal with Apple to produce feature films, documentaries and original series for Apple TV+, his spokesperson confirmed to Axios on Thursday.
Between the lines: The deal, which was first reported by the New York Times, brings authority to Apple's fledgling content efforts and gives Plepler a powerful platform to wield his influence as a top producer and talent magnet.
Be smart: Unlike some of its streaming competitors, Apple TV+ is being built almost exclusively for original content. Its smaller, more focused catalog is starting to look attractive to Hollywood A-listers, who worry about their work getting lost in the shuffle of mega-libraries at Netflix, Amazon, or HBO Max.
The big picture: Plepler's partnership with Apple signals a new era for Hollywood brass, in which they're becoming attractive content creation and distribution partners for tech companies with deep pockets.
Yes, but: It's very early, but Apple's big investments have yet to turn into major commercial successes.
What's next: It's still to be seen whether Apple's other big-time investments in Hollywood honchos will pay off.
New incidents are highlighting deepening tensions between tech giants and worker activists as employees and former workers at Amazon, Google and other companies publicly decry corporate moves.
Why it matters: These companies are struggling to reconcile idealistic images and rosy reputations with the more hard-nosed tactics big companies frequently adopt to discourage protests and labor organizing.
Driving the news:
At Login, we love travel-related hacks. Here's one for when your plane doesn't have its own phone or tablet holder.