Why Macworld will blow CES out of the water - again

Where is the creativity?CES is a fire hose in a parking lot.

Where is the creativity? CES is a fire hose in a parking lot. Macworld is a crystal-clear Martini in a jazz bar.

Remember when the PC was exciting? Phonebook-thick PC magazines! "Man of the year" awards! Hot ideas coming from every direction! Only one company still knows how to generate that kind of passion: Apple, Inc.

Why is that?

CES: 1.9 million sq ft and nothin' on My sense is that CES is reaching the same level of overkill that Networld/Interop reached in the mid-90's before it started its long implosion. N/I actually was a much larger show - IIRC over 200,000 attendees - and more narrowly focused, but it got to the point that it wasn't an effective platform. Everyone was too wasted from wandering in the desert to take much in.

The CES problem isn't just size. The key audience - dealers, installers, integrators - worry about a lot of unsexy, high-margin stuff like cables, wall mounts, multi-media switches and subwoofers.

I see their point. But it isn't the stuff of consumer dreams. At Macworld, finding cool stuff is easy.

Macworld (Appleworld?) - the $20 billion boutique From the moment Jobs mounts the stage, Reality Distortion Field set to "stun," attendees are begging to be wowed. And they will be.

Compared to CES, Apple has a laser-like focus on cool.

And because Apple is cool, the folks on the Expo floor have to be cool. A few cable vendors will be showing their coolest cables - are blue LEDs still in? - and highlighting wireless cable replacements. The software vendors need to have nice GUIs and the hardware guys need to bend a knee to Apple's design. It's the price of admission.

Can CES be saved? Probably not. It is hard for a price-sensitive mass market to be cool.

Matsushita gets it, which is why they are changing their name to that of their best known brand, Panasonic. About time, guys.

Ultimately it is up to the major vendors to realize that CES is not an effective marketing platform. It is just too hard to find the traffic drivers among the money-makers at CES.

The Storage Bits take The subtext is that I wasn't impressed by CES. Worn out, yes. As an analyst and a marketer I want to understand why. So if you too were underwhelmed by what you've read about CES, you aren't alone.

The fun will be next week.

Comments welcome, as always. I try to read them all and to respond where I have something interesting to say.


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