Forget Wearable Tech. People Really Want Better Batteries. : All Tech Considered The Consumer Electronics Show has wrapped up its showcase of the latest in high-tech gizmos. But according to a survey from Fortune magazine, many Americans have a simpler wish: longer battery life.
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Forget Wearable Tech. People Really Want Better Batteries.

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Forget Wearable Tech. People Really Want Better Batteries.

Forget Wearable Tech. People Really Want Better Batteries.

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/376166180/376381122" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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ARUN RATH, HOST:

This week, tech companies showed off their latest and greatest at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Wearable tech like Google Glass has been the hot trend lately, along with ultra-high definition 4K TVs. But is that actually what any of us want? Alan Murray is the editor of Fortune magazine, and he was at the CES this week. Alan, thanks for being with us.

ALAN MURRAY: Great to be here.

RATH: So Fortune actually did a survey of consumers asking them what they want in terms of electronics. And what did you find?

MURRAY: Well, what we found was the number one thing that consumers want is for their batteries to last longer. So...

RATH: Yeah.

MURRAY: ...You know, I have to tell you, I was struck by that poll result as I was walking around the convention center. You have to realize this is like two-and-a-half million square feet of display space with all these drones flying around and these mammoth curved televisions with 4K ultra-high definition and an awful lot of people running around, trying to find power strips so they could plug in their smart phones that had run out of battery juice.

RATH: They're not asking for Google Glass or other wearables or hoverboards. They just want better batteries.

MURRAY: Very little interest in wearables, very little knowledge, frankly, in 4K television.

RATH: Now, when you say very little demand, how little is that? How many people want Google Glass, for instance?

MURRAY: Single digits...

RATH: Wow.

MURRAY: ...Expressed an intention to buy a smart watch or some sort of wearable connected device in the next year. I think the real challenge for Apple in particular, which is coming out with its smart watch in the next years, can they do what they did with the iPod and the iPad with the smart watch? Can they create the demand by introducing something that sounds so exciting and compelling that you feel like even though you didn't previously want one, now you do? But it better have a good battery in it.

(LAUGHTER)

RATH: So do you think that - you're talking about Apple and the iPod - that old Steve Jobs' famous line that people don't know what they want until you show it to them. Do I really want wearables, and I just don't realize it yet?

MURRAY: It could be. I think that's what we'll find out. But, you know, sometimes these things fail. I mean, a great example a few years back, the big thing at the CES show was 3D television. And everybody thought this is going to be the next big thing. And they were pushing them out like mad at Best Buy and all the consumer electronic shows. And it was big flop. People don't want to sit in their living room and wear silly-looking glasses while they're watching TV.

RATH: And Alan, was there anybody at the CES with a magnificent battery display, showing...

MURRAY: No.

RATH: ...Like, some sexy new batteries?

MURRAY: No. I'm sure somewhere in those two-and-a-half million square feet of product there were people selling battery products. But there was not a lot of talk or buzz about the big battery breakthrough. Everyone knows it has to happen. The last thing people want is to have their smart watch become one more thing that has to be plugged in and charged at night or even during the day. I mean, imagine it's two o'clock in the afternoon and your watch suddenly runs out of power. You know, this is a problem waiting to be solved. And I didn't get any sense in my three days at the Consumer Electronics Show that the solution is about to happen.

RATH: That's Alan Murray. He's the editor of Fortune magazine, and he joined us from New York. Alan, thanks very much.

MURRAY: Great to be with you.

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