CES 2012: Showcase for stuff not available for months, if then

CES 2012: Showcase for stuff not available for months, if then

Summary: The big CES show is hitting the desert next week, and of all the cool gear that will be displayed, how much of it will be available any time soon?


The big tech show in Vegas is next week, when hundreds of thousands descend to the desert to see the latest and greatest in consumer electronics. In recent years the mobile space has dominated the big show, from laptops and netbooks to tablets. This year will likely see more of the same, but with all of the fancy new products that will be unveiled at CES, there will be one thing lacking that lessens the impact of the big show. What you won't hear much is how cool new product X is "available now".

See also: 2012: Year of the Ultrabook

This year the big theme at the CES will be the Ultrabook, with at least 50 new models to be shown off for the first time. Every laptop maker will have the thin notebooks on display, touting all the reasons theirs are better than those across the show aisle. When you sift through all of the market-speak, you get to the reality of these great gadgets. That is the expected shipping date, which will be some time way in the future, if at all.

The problem with announcing product so far in advance is the wow factor is lost. CES attendees duly ooh and ahh over the cool new gadget, but if it won't hit the market for 6, 9, or 12 months (if at all), it loses the excitement. Long after the CES 2012 show concludes, tech sites will be asking "whatever happened to Gadget X that we saw at the CES"? Some of the coolest gadgets never come to market at all, and some that do seem to show up a year later.

It's cool to show off the latest and greatest, but the CES is losing its impact with consumers given the way it works. If you can't run out and buy the cool stuff, or at least plan to do so in the near future, the excitement dies off. How many of you can remember the "Best of Show" awardees for the past few years at the CES? Me neither.

See also:

Topics: Tablets, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility

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  • RE: CES 2012: Showcase for stuff not available for months, if then

    Well MS seemed to realize this and decided to pull out...it probably won't be long before others start hosting their own product launch events instead of hosting at CES as well.

    One thing I hate about events like CES is companies involved seem to stop all productive work and day to day operations up to 2 weeks before and after the event just to put together their PR packages and product demos.
    • RE: CES 2012: Showcase for stuff not available for months, if then

      I agree about launch events. The big players are probably all going to start dropping out of CES and hosting their own events. For the smaller players, though, CES is the only cost-effective way to get widespread media attention. I think CES will always be the big show for those companies, which is unfortunate in many ways.

      As for productive work stopping, you aren't far from the mark. I've worked at several smaller companies who produced content to show at CES. For several weeks prior to the event, production people are putting in 80+ hour weeks to try to get something ready to show. Sadly, a lot of the work done during that time is not production work, but "smoke and mirrors" work in order to convey what the final product will look like. Some of it has to be trashed afterward and redone. Because of the crazy hours, I can tell you a lot of bugs are introduced during that period, as well.

      Then, after CES, the production people are so burned out that they have take time off to recover. The absolute worst part of the whole thing is that managers don't allow for this wasted two months in their scheduling. They pull production people off of doing useful work and still require them to meet deadlines as if the huge delay didn't happen. So, production people spend weeks creating a bunch of smoke and mirrors stuff, then spend a week removing all of it afterward, and finally start again from the spot they were several weeks earlier. For a lot of the people who are actually doing the work, it would honestly be better if CES didn't exist. It kills productivity.
  • It's an old story.

    Jerry Pournelle used to write in Byte Magazine that there are three kinds of computer products: hardware, software, and vaporware. Most of what he saw in trade shows was of the third type.