Why doesn't anyone care about CES? Oh, wait. Apple's not there

Why doesn't anyone care about CES? Oh, wait. Apple's not there

Summary: We have too much crap. We're in a dull, dismal economy. Most of us already have one of this and two of that. New introductions already seem like also-rans after just a day. And there's no buzz.

TOPICS: CES, Apple, Windows 8

There is a palpable sense of what can only be described as "Meh" coming out of this year's Consumer Electronics Show.

You would think that, in a world that's been transformed by HDTV (62 percent of us own one), smartphones (58 percent of us own one), and tablets (1 in 4 of us own one), not to mention Facebook (more than a billion of us use it), some of us would care more about the newest and grooviest of consumer toys and gadgets.

But that's the thing. Most of us have these things. We also have digital cameras. Amazon's top-selling digital camera, the Canon PowerShot A2300 IS costs less than $80 and has a 16 megapixel resolution. No one needs a 16 megapixel resolution. Not even spy satellites.

Sure, the Wii U just came out, but other than Nintendo fanboys, no one cares. Next year, we might see a new Playstation and Xbox, but not this year. This year, we're decades (at least in dog years) into the current console generation and even the most exciting and amazing games are into their third or fourth sequel.

And then there's this whole cloud thing. As ZDNet's Larry Dignan said, "It's not easy going cloud," especially if your job is to sell things that come in physical boxes.

Software packages have given way to apps, and these are downloaded and installed with a one-finger tap. No one goes to CES to see apps. Many specialized home gadgets, like personal servers, have given way to cloud storage, like the services offered by Amazon and Google and Apple and Microsoft.

Windows 8 is truly exciting (yes, it actually is), but the problem with the Windows 8 tablets is (a) some of them run the crippled Windows 8 RT, and (b) they're impossible to distinguish from each other.

On Sunday, I picked on the announcement of the Vizio Tablet PC. It's a PC that's a tablet that runs Windows 8. It's no more exciting than the Asus Windows 8 tablet or the Gigabyte Windows 8 tablet. They all look like tablets that run Windows 8. They're nice (I'm sure), but they're not exactly something to get all sweaty over.

Here's the thing, and I hate to even bring it up. Think about this for a second.

Who's the world's most successful consumer electronics company? Yeah, if you mentioned Apple, you'd be pretty much right (there's some executive at Samsung right now with a fist in the air, yelling "Damn you, Apple!").

Okay, let's try a related question: what consumer electronics company generates enormous buzz when its new products come out? Sigh. Apple, of course.

Ready for the third question? Here it is. What well-known consumer electronics behemoth didn't bother to show at the Consumer Electronics Show? Yep, that'd be Apple.

So let's run down the meh, shall we? We all (or anyone who would care about CES, anyway) already own or four tablets, smartphones, HDTVs, yada yada yada. The new stuff that's coming out is already blurring together into a mass mulch of meh. On top of that, the most successful consumer electronics company, the consumer electronics company that generates the most buzz, isn't at the Consumer Electronics Show.

If CES is seeming like a giant disconnect this year, that's because it is.

We love us our consumer electronics. Truly, we do. But there comes a point where we hit saturation (my wife and I counted last night, and between smartphones and tablets and ebook readers, we have something like seven teeny-tiny screens scattered just in our bedroom -- and that doesn't count my iPhone pico projector).

Consumer electronics companies are desperately trying to come up with something new that we all just have to buy, but as Jason Perlow explores, technologies like 4K ultra-high definition televisions are nothing but a CES wet dream.

We have too much crap. We're in a dull, dismal economy. Most of us already have one of this and two of that and four of that other thing. New introductions already seem like also-rans after just a day. And there's no buzz. Worse, even Apple is starting to seem boring. They've already shot their wad and we're all just wondering what new thrill they can offer us.

The buzz is dead.

This year's CES is pretty much a buzzkill.

But hey, there's E3 this summer, right? Right? Anyone? Ferris?

Topics: CES, Apple, Windows 8


David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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  • Apple?

    Apple hasn't created a new product in years... why would there be excitement over their announcements? CES has never been about Apple iFans... it has been about tech saavy consumers looking at the latest innovations from a variety of companies... some of these companies that cannot afford to have their own shows.
    • There wasn't much excitement over the iPad mini

      arguably their newest product in quite some time.
      William Farrel
      • What do you mean by new?

        While it may be new in the sense a 7.7" iPad didn't exist before there's nothing new about it from a technology perspective.
        • You may have missed the point of the article

          Your statement in reply to the biggest recent announcement of new technology (iPad Mini) is to the exact point of the article. Software, smartphones, flat-screen TVs all kinda look the same. Why do you need a Consumer Electronic's Show to show you a piece of glass?
          • I wasn't responding to the article.

            I was responding to William Farrel's comment.
          • Kind of the point?

            Will Farr's comment was off-topic too
        • It's new because it didn't exist before.

          A lot of new things are just extentions of older technology.

          That's like saying nothing new about a 46" LCD TV since you could get 15" LCD monitors for years.

          What would you rather watch a movie on? Hence it's new, and people buy it because it's something they wanted, but it wan't in the form facter they prefered.
          William Farrel
      • Apple seems pretty excited...

        Sales of over 10 million units during the last quarter of 2012 would get me excited to...
        • How many of theh iPad mini?

          they haven't released sales numbers on that yet.
          William Farrel
        • Of course they're excited.

          They're rolling naked in mountains of cash, giggling, "I can't believe they bought it AGAIN OMG."

          Ivan Turgenev
      • Oh really?

        How about all the speculations over the Net before iPad mini was released? No, really. What will it include and what not. No? You don't remember ?
        Maria Davidenko
        • You get that with everything.

          speculation's been around for years, and used for years.

          Many times the speculation is more exciting then the actual product or event.
          William Farrel
          • Um, not

            Everything? You mean like the new PlayBook? Or the new Vizio Tab? How about the new Asus laptops? Nope.
          • Deserved or not the point is

            that Apple generates more buzz than anybody else and even a hater like yourself can't deny that with a straight face.
    • Regardless...

      Regardless if you are a Microsoft fanboy or an Apple fanboy (or a Samsung fanboy?), companies need to start taking a look at design, feel and UI - a MUCH deeper look evidently. Apple products look and feel nice, plus they are high quality and have little problems. AND IF, there is a problem, Apple takes care of it for you. Unlike all the other companies with bad customer service and terrible design interface, not to mention a terrible and unsecure OS, which actually makes UI terrible. Apple is still in the know and until a company steps up and has a secure OS, with some amazingly high-tech and cool design of their products, then Apple will still be the one that gets the majority excited.
      • really?

        Then why do so many technically literate people not use Apple devices?
        • Because they're influenced by people like you--

          who either spout all the old cliches about Apple or they simply dislike Apple as a brand--like you.

          The interesting thing I've seen is that when technically-savvy professionals try an Apple product--I mean really try it as in get to KNOW it--they never go back.
          • My observation too

            This is exactly the observation I have with competent people and Apple products.

            The best thing about Apple products is that they get out of the way. This is what professionals need and want and once they have it, they don't look elsewhere.

            On the other side, if you need a Tamagotchi (a lot of people do), there is always Microsoft to sell you something. :)
          • So you're saying

            The majority of professionals are not competent?
            I think we can all judge for ourselves who is the "intelligent professional" in these discussions.
          • What?

            Apple's OS and prigram limitations get in the way a lot. This is why Win Systems maintain dominant in business. Despite Apples best efforts they have not innovated what real workers need. They make sexy and glorified gaming/browsing systems and forgot the working roots. They succeeded through great marketing of evolutionary products through high risk design efforts which paid off. Good on them. But now others have decided to take bigger risks and have caught up. This is where the CES observations come into play. The world has balanced and there is no clear leader right now. Someone needs to step up and lead now.