Bing Blog

If I don't attend CES, did it happen?

Tech Geek

So for the first time I can remember, the CES public relations site does not feature a press release saying it was the biggest gathering of all time. There are a lot of interesting items on the site, all of which, I will be honest with you, are very boring to me. I don't know why. Last year I went to CES and it was hopping, a crazy wild-west show. This year I didn't go, and a lot of people I know didn't go, and the news coming out of it was like warmed over mashed potatoes.

I emailed a pal of mine in the tech sector and asked him whether my feeling was right, or whether I was just being like an infant. You know how it is with kids under 3? If they don't see something, it doesn't exist. That's why they like to play peek-a-boo so much. Every time you pop up, it surprises them because they didn't know you were there at all. So that could be it. I didn't go. So it didn't happen. I recognize that possibility.

But my friend the wireless-head verifies my conjecture. "Have long email on this which I will forward. They are saying 140k at the high Tuesday but that was inflated. From feet on street perspective, much easier to navigate less booth babes and fewer announcements. Its like media moved in and big tech left. My guess is we've seen the high for ces for a while."

Gizmodo adds another dimension, rumoring that the show may move out of Vegas when its deals for the space are up in 2011. CES not in Vegas? Would that mean that the porno show would have to move with it? And if it didn't, what would it do without all those geeks who move from drooling about hardware to drooling about wetware?

My industry has seen the flourishing and death of a number of key conventions. The main industry gathering, for instance, is right now biting the dust due to a) too many conventions anyhow, b) reduced budgets for stupid boondoggles and c) the industry changing so that the convention floor, once filled by the great and mighty, is now populated mostly by Asian corporations that make flash drives. Once, we had to go the event. People fought over the right to take part in its panels. Now you could hear a tumbleweed roll through the aisles.

All businesses have cycles. Today's shiny toy is tomorrow's doorstop. The crazy conventions that attend each of our disciplines mirror the biorhythms of the industries they attract. So what's up, do you think? Is the great eye of hotness moving on?

3 Comments Add Comment

I used to be in retail management in a past life, and I can tell you what is biting CES right now. 10 years ago a computer model was available for sale for 8 or 9 months before being replaced. A TV model would be around for 9 months as well. 3 years ago when I left retail computers were cycling out ever 4 months, and laptops every 3 months. The TV model we bought in January was gone by April.

What this means is that a once-a-year event like CES is behind the times. If a vendor waits until CES to unveil something new and cool, it is outdated by the time it hits the floor. Unless you have something radically different, today's global economy cycles out products faster than a convention can be arranged.

That's not to say there aren't a few cool gadgets to see. However, more than likely that's a timing coincedence as opposed to marketing. You will find a larger selection of must-have new tech items on the floor of Best Buy than at CES simply due to the speed of our product cycles.

BTW I bought a flash drive last year. Once it fell off my key chain it sat in a bowl by my front door for 3 weeks until it got shoved in a drawer. I swear Flash Drives are the new fruit cake.

I'm missing press days at the Detroit International Auto Show next week, which is painful. I wish I could pretend that wasn't happening.

It’s the pendulum swinging yet again. Comdex died because it was trying to be CES and it appears that CES may pass on attempting to cover both tech and the consumer markets. Sponsorships, booth space, and marketing opportunities do the heavy lifting for events and companies pay to reach a qualified buyer. Showing up just to “brand” simply isn’t done anymore because the costs are outrageous and viral marketing works. When the buyers stop attending, the exhibit dollars start to fall and the vine begins to wither. Give a company the chance to go one-on-one with decision makers that either can’t be reached or don’t leave their office and they will get in line for that kind of opportunity. The next big events are small; very focused, very network intensive, and yes….expensive.