CES: The Best, Worst Thing to Happen In Tech

Jan 3, 2014
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The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is right around the corner, which means the time has come for all of us to get excited about the latest and greatest technologies companies will be showing off this year.

As countless industry analysts and pundits will tell you, this year’s CES will play host to a bunch of developing technologies, including Ultra HD, wearable tech, and others, and there appears to be little chance that some of the old standbys, like 1080p HDTVs and PCs will be able to make the kind of splash that they once did at the show.

But as someone who has been covering this industry for several years and has attended my fair share of CES events, I can tell you beyond a shadow of doubt that while it’s one of the most important shows and arguably one of the most interesting, it’s also the worst thing to happen to this industry.

The Consumer Electronics Show is huge. If you’ve never attended, you owe it to yourself to find a way at least once to see just how sprawling the event can be. You’ll walk countless miles over a few days and find that you couldn’t see half of what was there. What’s worse, some of the most interesting and innovative technologies, started by small entrepreneurs, find themselves in the back corners of rooms you never even see, meaning the larger firms tend to get the most play.

Oh, and when you come home from the show, you can all but guarantee that you’ll come down with some kind of cold – it’s impossible not to when everywhere you go, you’re surrounded by people.

But after the initial shock and awe of the sprawling show wears off, you come to realize, just days after the event, that much of what you’ve seen might never see store shelves. What’s worse, companies are more than happy to show off “future” technologies, only to give them the same moniker year after year after year. Simply put, CES is, in many ways, a lot of talk, but not a lot of walk.

Admittedly, there are many companies that come to CES with products ready to hit store shelves. But there are also countless devices that have either already been made available or seem to be little more than cool concepts that might still be years off. It’s the middle ground that matters. And in that middle ground, it’s hard to find a whole lot of truly compelling products.

Then, of course, there’s the lull – the period between the big show and when products actually hit store shelves. In far too many cases, that’s months, and it means seeing products in January, only to hear little to nothing about them until, say, October. That is, of course, unless they get delayed, which pushes the wait even further.

This is not to say that CES isn’t important – it is. But under all of the hoopla and hype and sexy technology, we find something rather interesting: it’s filled with the what-ifs and could-bes and not very much in the way of products that we want and can get our hands on right now.

Will 2014 be any different? We can hope. But at this point, the only thing we can do is wait and find out.

Not everyone agrees with Don: some say tradeshows like CES are evolving, not dying. You can keep track of all the CES announcements - good and bad! - at the SlashGear CES Hub!


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