What’s Wrong with CES? Plenty

by Reads (5,115)

The Consumer Electronics Show is a week-long annual celebration of technology in all its forms. It’s a venue where tens of thousands of digerati show up to see the latest and greatest. It also has some horrible flaws.

CES 2012Terrible Timing
What is the worst possible time you can think of for companies to announce new consumer products? How about two weeks after the holiday shopping season is over? That’s just when CES is held, in early January. 

As a result, products get unveiled that aren’t anywhere close to being released. There were some great smartphones revealed at this tradeshow last week. For example, AT&T is going to introduce the just-announced Nokia Lumia 900 and HTC Titan II in the “coming months”. The same is true of Verizon’s Motorola Droid 4, and a lot of other interesting handsets.

I can think of  just one that has an actual launch date.  At this point, “in the coming months” probably means springtime, just in time for the Moms, Dads, and Grads shopping season. We’re left hanging.

The Consumer Electronics Association should move CES to some better time of the year. I’m thinking late summer or early fall, when companies could use it to launch their Christmas lineup of products.  

Monumental Overcrowding
CES’ organizers like to brag about how many companies have exhibits at this show, and that 150,000+ people attend it. Speaking as one of those thousands, let me tell you, it’s a bloody nightmare.

The show strains even Las Vegas almost to the breaking point. The only thing that stops the show floor from being massively over-crowded, hot, close, and dimly lit is that it’s sometimes well lit. Getting a taxi usually takes an hour. Getting on the monorail or a bus in the late afternoon takes the same.

One of the most important press conferences of CES 2012 was Nokia’s. I showed up 45 minutes early, and there were 300-400 reporters in line already. I barely made it in.

Meetings have to be scheduled with at least an hour gap between them because just getting from one side of the packed showfloor to the other takes a half hour. If the meeting is off-site, then a two-hour gap is necessary. 

CES 2012 Show FloorAll this distracts from the purpose of the show. These people have gathered together to accomplish their individual goals, but they spend far too much time just trying to get around while not falling over each other. For example, people like me have to walk past acres (literally… acres) of car audio exhibits to get from one smartphone-related exhibit to another. 

CES is a victim of its own success. That’s why some big-name companies are starting to pull out. Apple has been out for years. This will be the last CES for Microsoft, and word is Sony is leaving too.

The answer is clear. There need to be more special-purpose tradeshows pulling companies and attendees away. I always go to the ones put on twice a year by CTIA. These specifically target smartphones and other mobile technology, so all the companies and exhibitors are at least somewhat relevant to me and everyone else who is there. As a result, these tradeshows are much more valuable in every way.

Working Not Playing
The Consumer Electronics Show is an amazing event. I’ve been 5-10 times, when I know many of you reading this would give their eyeteeth to go just once. I completely understand that it would be a heck of a fun thing to do… if I was just there to have fun. But I’m not, I have very definite goals I have to reach, and having 150,000 other people who are also trying to do many of the same things makes that very hard.

AnalysisThe fact that the bad timing of this show pushes the release of the products that I’m looking at months into the future makes struggling to reach these goals even more frustrating.

Nevertheless, it’s not like Brighthand is going to stop attending CES. For all its flaws, it’s a very important tradeshow. There’s definitely room for improvement, though.

 More CES 2012 Product News and Coverage





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