The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is right around the corner, which means all of us in the technology world are gearing up to see all kinds of new devices. From televisions to smartphones to Ultrabooks, just about any major product category (and some that have yet to be revealed) will be making a showing at CES.
But in recent weeks, it’s becoming clear that the industry’s most important event might not be so important any longer. Just this week, Verizon said that its CEO Lowell McAdam won’t be making an appearance at a keynote he was expected to attend.
That news follows Microsoft admission that this year’s CES will be its last. Meanwhile, Apple has once again balked at showing up at CES, leaving some of the most prominent companies in the business turning their backs on the show.
Those troubles have prompted some to speculate on the future of CES. Will it survive? Is the business model of allowing any and all consumer electronics companies to attend, as well as well over 100,000 people really the best move? Can CES attract other large companies to make up for those that have left, or are at least considering leaving?
I have a better question: who really cares?
Look, I’m as guilty as anyone else for loving all the excitement surrounding CES. We get our first looks at some of the latest and greatest ideas tech companies have to offer, and along the way, we can decide if any of those products are something we’re going to buy.
But in recent years, CES has become bloated. Too many companies attend the event, and in far too many cases, what they show off isn’t all that impressive. What’s worse, they’re all vying for limited attention, and more often than not, they get lost in the shuffle. For most companies, the upside of going to CES is not all that great.
The show’s Microsoft loss is huge. Microsoft was a staunch supporter of the event for years, and now that it’s leaving, what other big company can really lead the charge to help it attract attention?
Apple certainly won’t line up for that duty and considering Google seems so against being viewed as a hardware maker, it’s unlikely the search giant will carry the banner either. And as much as I’ve tried, I can’t think of another top newsmaker that would hold a keynote address that the vast majority of consumers would care about.
CES is in trouble. And although I believe it’ll hold on for at least the next few years, unless some drastic changes are made, I’m not sure it can survive beyond that.
But then again, who cares? The show is fun, but if we lose it and the countless other shows the industry has succeed because of it, will we really be missing out? I don’t think so.