January 8, 2014
The Problem With CES: The Show We Love To Hate
The “most wonderful time of the year” (that would be the holidays that include Christmas and New Year) are followed by what is arguably the “least wonderful time of the year.” This would be the week of CES – formerly the Consumer Electronics Show.
This year the show likely won’t break attendance records, but it isn’t because the show is actually smaller. In fact the trade show, which still remains the world’s largest trade event, continues to grow. No, this year weather will play a factor as many attendees scrambled to get to Las Vegas. Winter Storm Ion played havoc with travel and many attendees were heard saying, “this was worse than usual.”
The key is that “worse” really means it is never good. Of course, what should we expect for January travel? Winter is a time of snow, and since attendees come from near and far – more likely far – it means travel through hubs such as New York and Chicago, which are cities that don’t fare so well in the snow.
Many years there have been the concerns that a storm was brewing and attendees just hoped they’d get home in advance of it. Why do we put ourselves through this year after year? That’s just one question.
The other is why does this need to be held immediately after New Year’s? There is no real reason of course, but it is really strange to see next holiday’s hot products when the wrapping is barely off the gifts that were opened two weeks ago!
We live in a consumer-oriented society for sure, but at some point it borders on the surreal. This year that fact was made all the more clear when Samsung and LG started to “leak out” product announcements in the middle of December. At what point is enough already enough?
CES is thus the show many attendees – including this reporter – love to hate. We love to complain and even utter the phrase “I’m not coming next year,” but usually we do.
There are plenty of reasons. Where else can we see a 105-inch OLED TV (curved OLED set at that) or see director Michael Bay have a total and complete meltdown during the Samsung press conference?
The biggest problem however with CES is that it stopped being the “Consumer Electronics Show” and now encompasses automotive technology, mobile phone technology, computer technology, gaming technology and even fitness technology. While all this might seem as if it falls into the domain of “consumer electronics” actually the traditional “consumer electronics” consists of appliances, TVs and stereo gear.
There are already plenty of auto shows and the North American International Auto Show – aka the Detroit Auto Show – takes place next week. Mobile phones are covered by the CTIA Wireless Show, video games by E3 and fitness has its own various shows. For reasons only the CEA – that would be the Consumer Electronics Association – understands it is better to be bigger.
Maybe it is about bragging rights, but it means that no single attendee – media or otherwise – can see everything. How do you attend the Audi keynote and the Sony press conference on Monday night? You don’t. How do you see everything there is to see at the Las Vegas Convention Center and everything in the private suites and off-site events?
So, like many, I’ve traveled to Vegas and only gotten a taste of CES. I’ll spend too much time in buses and in cabs, and likely lines for buses and cabs. Sometimes bigger isn’t better. It is just bigger and louder.
That’s the problem with CES and I know I’m not alone in thinking this. Maybe more should stand up and say it, as well!
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