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CES Scales Up While Companies Push Back

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the opposite-directions dept.

Businesses 36

The Consumer Electronics Show is being pushed in ever-more-glamorous directions as organizers attempt to top themselves every year. Much like the final years of the E3 event, this week's showcase will feature loud music and brightly-lit stages. At the same time, also mirroring E3, the big businesses that drive CES are starting to rethink the need for the event itself. The New York Times reports: "Technology companies now frequently introduce their products elsewhere, in an effort to reach consumers more directly. The Apple iPhone, the Nintendo Wii and other recent must-haves were not unveiled at C.E.S. One of the industry's biggest hits in 2007 was the Flip Video camcorder, an easy-to-use pocket-size device that sells for $120. Executives from Pure Digital Technologies, its maker, visited Las Vegas last year during the show but kept to their hotel suite at the Wynn."

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It's only reasonable. (2, Interesting)

aquaepulse (990849) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940586)

Why compete against other companies, while having to pay for floorspace? Why not start an ad campaign and send out more units to review to technology websites.

Re:It's only reasonable. (2, Insightful)

Loibisch (964797) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940630)

Because reviews do not shine as much as all the heavens a gadget maker will promise onto you.

Or clearer: Showing off your product and claiming it's the best is one thing, proving the stetement by submitting it to review is another and might actually convince fewer people. :)

Re:It's only reasonable. (2, Insightful)

paxgaea (219419) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940674)

That just says to me that their products won't stand up to review, and likely won't get to be killer hits anyway even amongst all that noise at CES, so that company should go back to the drawing board and spend their money on R&D for a better product.

Like many things in a capitalist economy, it just seems that CES has gotten too big for it's britches, and maybe needs to be broken into smaller parts (kinda like an antitrust for trade shows).

Although it does fit well in Vegas, being over the top and glitzy.

Waiting for the GAY GEORGIA TECH PARKING office to (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21940814)

open. Sitting out here in my green Honda Civic, tag 032 JTL. Gah. I hate it. Hate every minute of it.

Re:It's only reasonable. (1)

monkeyboythom (796957) | more than 6 years ago | (#21942116)

But...think about the hookers and strippers! Who's going to pay for their services now?

big-budget tradeshows a waste of money (1, Funny)

Swampash (1131503) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940590)

In other news, sky found to be blue.

Suicidal (4, Funny)

imagin8or (676287) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940596)

"the organisers attempt to top themselves every year" - in Blighty that means that they're annually attempting to commit suicide. So either they're very bad at it, or they keep getting distracted by the shiny things.

This broadcast brought to you by Pan Atlantic Linguists (FRIEND).

Re:Suicidal (1)

Faylone (880739) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940654)

In their defense, I must admit shiny things are pretty good at distracting me too. It's dangerous for me to browse ThinkGeek.

Re:Suicidal (1)

neokushan (932374) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940930)

Careful now, there's a bunch of people at Toshiba who might just pull it off this year.

What... (1)

paxgaea (219419) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940620)

Just cuz Gates bows out, we all have to bow out?

Sounds like an "I'm takin my toys and goin home"...

Seriously though, who needs these kinds of things? It seems like a big glitzy extravaganza for large tech co's to pat themselves on the back. Especially in an economic downturn it makes sense for companies to cut back on these sorts of frills, much the same as mortgage lending houses are cutting back on dividends and bonuses. Course, there is a teensy weensy little problem in their particular industry that could be causing that...

Excellent quote from TFA (2, Insightful)

paxgaea (219419) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940648)

"One of the reasons Apple stole C.E.S. last year was that its message was simple and succinct," said Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group. "C.E.S. does not have a crystal-clear message. There's too much information, and it looks like you have to get a Ph.D. to get these things to work."

Plain and simple, it's hard to stand out in a crowd!

Public admission? (2, Interesting)

derflammenhund (768851) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940656)

Isn't CES closed to the public? Doesn't it then seem to make more sense to communicate directly with the consumer than to waste time and energy on something that only bills itself with the word?

Disregard if that's not the case, of course, but I can see where they're coming from if they only allow journalists entry.

Re:Public admission? (3, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940688)

CES is a 'trade-only' event. That doesn't mean that a huge number of (international big box) retailers, installers, and other industry people don't go; it's just not as big as COMDEX (which was trade-only wink wink) was. COMDEX wasn't prepared for 9/11 and was killed by the industry down-turn and a bad chairman (IMHO).

Every big trade show needs industry strength to survive. In Europe, CeBIT is down, and while IFA and MobleWorld/3GSM are up, CES (even though it's a trade association show) must constantly re-justify itself and re-invent its value, otherwise it's a pricy proposition in an ever-pricier locale.

Re:Public admission? (2, Insightful)

nbert (785663) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940732)

According to

The International CES is not open to the general public and all attendees must be in the consumer electronics industry to be eligible to attend the show. Due to the investment made by our exhibitors, International CES show management wants to ensure that its attendees are members of the trade.
So it's not open, but I wouldn't necessarily see this as a bad thing. Public technology related trade shows have become less popular in recent years, because there are cheaper and more convenient ways for both sides to communicate.
I went to such shows ~15 years ago because they really offered lot's of information I would have missed otherwise. Today it's much easier to look up some review on the web or to hear about new gadgets in the media. Furthermore product cycles don't really match fairs and trade shows anymore (which can be seen as a cause or a consequence for their decline in popularity).

Re:Public admission? (3, Informative)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 6 years ago | (#21943420)

The CES show is technically only open to people in the trade and journalists. It's not hard to get in though and I'm sure anybody here could do it. I've been twice in my lifetime. Things I noticed about the show that were not expected... There were more exotic cars in the Car Audio hall then at the entire LA Auto show. There were also plenty of game booths setup to play Xbox or PC games. Overall, the show is interesting but if I was in the trade I wouldn't see it as NEEDED. Also as a side note, most people who "are going to the CES show" are really next door at the Adult Entertainment Expo.

It's worth it just for the Keynote speech alone (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21940744)

BIll Gates states in his keynote in regards to vista: "I think a lot of people would say it was the best new product of the year in terms of the neat, new things they're using in it."

If anyone can honestly say that with a strait face, it's well worth it.

Re:It's worth it just for the Keynote speech alone (2, Insightful)

Moonpie Madness (764217) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940828)

Do you think any of Bill's circle are willing to tell him that Vista is a total mess? Probably not. Bill Gates no longer needs to know the bad stuff, he's not in charge anyway.

I wanted to buy a laptop yesterday, and the kid at Fry's told me they just didn't have any laptops with XP anymore, but I should be happy to take Vista, because it's so much safer. Except, I'm not an idiot, so XP is actually really safe enough for me, and 170% faster, and works with all my software. Can't blame MS for moving forward or whatever they are doing, but I'm glad there are some alternatives for my computer if I can get a fast laptop with no OS on it.

Re:It's worth it just for the Keynote speech alone (2, Funny)

Comboman (895500) | more than 6 years ago | (#21942044)

Do you think any of Bill's circle are willing to tell him that Vista is a total mess?

The only way Bill wouldn't know Vista is a total mess is if he's still using XP.

Re:It's worth it just for the Keynote speech alone (2, Funny)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#21942900)

Why would he be using XP? He's one of the richest men in the world. He can afford a Mac.

Re:It's worth it just for the Keynote speech alone (1)

clonmult (586283) | more than 6 years ago | (#21941364)

BG can easily say something like that, he's never appeared to have any real sense of humour.

Re:It's worth it just for the Keynote speech alone (1)

jcnnghm (538570) | more than 6 years ago | (#21941678)

I think that's the real problem with CES. I paged through a list of new products [] yesterday night, and nothing really stood out as new and innovative, just a bunch of mediocre upgrades. New lines of LCDs, Laptops, iPod docks galore. The only things that were kind of interesting were a curved display from alienware [] , and a game called Guitar Wizard, basically Guitar Hero with a real guitar [] .

Companies would probably be more excited about CES if they had something a bit more interesting to launch than new lines of iPod docks and larger digital picture frames.

At the Wynn, you say ? (1)

bytesex (112972) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940826)

Really ? Not at Ceasar's ? My, that's just fabulous !

Take a cue from the porn guys (4, Insightful)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940856)

Take this with a grain of salt; it's been years since I was in the porn industry and actually got paid to go to CES so my knowledge may be out of date. But the adult section of CES (that once was the main draw for lots of attendees and certainly was an entertaining break for 99% of them) got too big and flashy, questioned the need to be a part of CES, and broke away years ago. Their completely separate gathering has been quite a success, from what I hear.

I've never understood why CES was so unfocused. Back when I went every year, there was the car stuff section, the adult section, the high end audio section (usually at a completely different location), the crap audio section, the home theatre section, the incredibly weird and useless lo-buck gadget section, and on and on. Lots of those things had nothing in common with anyone else and could have existed as their own (often large) trade show. CES is just too big and unfocused. If anyone is a big enough retailer to carry all the stuff that shows at CES, then they're big enough that they don't need to go to CES; the vendors would gladly come to them. Better to break it up and have people going to smaller shows where the products they're actually interested in are shown in more depth.

Re:Take a cue from the porn guys (2, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#21941280)

I've never understood why CES was so unfocused.
Because the Consumer Electronics market is so wildly unfocused?

Better to break it up and have people going to smaller shows where the products they're actually interested in are shown in more depth.
Maybe it'd be a better idea to break it up, but if products aren't being "shown in more depth" I'd imagine that's the exhibitors fault and not CES's.

My question is why do companies do the Hotel Suite thing?
Can they not afford a booth on the floor?
Are they just trying to keep it exclusive?
Other reasons?

Booth space (2, Informative)

JoeCommodore (567479) | more than 6 years ago | (#21941780)

From what I had read floor booth rental can be from 5 to 6 figures (not including the actual hardware of your display, any tech support and staffing. Depending on how cheap your Co is, how well they expect revenue to be, or if they just don't have much to show off, it may be a pretty tough sell.

Re:Take a cue from the porn guys (2, Interesting)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | more than 6 years ago | (#21941844)

Because the Consumer Electronics market is so wildly unfocused?

Yeah, that's certainly part of it. But there are other factors that lead to the show being diluted. Some people go who really have no reason to. The car audio guys, for example, would reach far more of their buyers if they stayed at SEMA shows. And lots of people show up for reasons I can't fathom. Maybe there's some tenuous connection between iPod cover sales and consumer electronics. I'll grant that. But I actually saw an exhibitor whose product was those toy birds that stand next to a glass of water and continually bend over to dip their bill in the water. They belonged at a toy show, not CES. But CES has gotten so big that lots of exhibitors are just there because they think everybody is there. If they were honest, they wouldn't be able to articulate a reason for going.

...if products aren't being "shown in more depth" I'd imagine that's the exhibitors fault and not CES's.

I disagree. With the crush of show-goers, it's tough to see anything in depth. There are just too many people waiting, pushing, crowding to the front to see what you've got. If any real business is going to get done, you need to have a booth large enough to set up a walled-off office. At minimum, you need enough space to have some tables, separate from your product, so that you can sit down away from the crush and talk business. Those basic 8-foot booths where someone puts two chairs along the back curtain with a small table between them are, imo, completely useless for actually having a conversation and making a sale. Many to most exhibitors don't/can't spend spend enough money to get enough space. Others go even further and do the whole hotel suite thing.

My question is why do companies do the Hotel Suite thing?

Three things I can think of, offhand. 1 - See above. 2 - High end audio dealers need a quiet space to demo their stuff and the general show floor is anything but quiet. 3 - Parties that make a good impression on your customers and partners. Among my old friends, the last time I was in a corporate suite was in the wee hours after the AVN awards. The party was great right up until the point where they made the announcement "If you're not talent or you're not here with talent, you gotta leave now. The orgy's about to start.", followed immediately by security goons assisting the fat and dateless behind-the-scenes guys, like me, rather quickly out the door.

Can they not afford a booth on the floor?

Some can and do the suite in addition to the booth. Some can't afford it. A useful booth requires not just more cash but also more people to run. With a hotel suite, you can close the door if things get too crazy or if you want to pay special attention to one buyer. Some even close the door at lunch (not too many, though).

Are they just trying to keep it exclusive?

That's certainly part of it.

Re:Take a cue from the porn guys (1)

humphrm (18130) | more than 6 years ago | (#21942150)

The trouble is that the industry insiders, e.g. the buyers and retail sellers of this junk, can get their own private audiences with the companies that develop and market them. There are no big buyers at the CES (at least, none are making a committment to buy at the CIS) So that leaves only one other demographic, the end-user / retail-buyer lookie-lou's. And when you make access to the show so difficult and expensive and then have a bunch of off-floor activities in suites that those people don't even hear about (or worse yet - hear about but then don't get invited to) you might as well write off the purpose of the show.

The Chicago Auto Show has it right. People stop buying new cars in Chicago in about December or so, just to wait for the CAS. They go to the show in February, they sit in cars, play with the buttons, etc. They can do everything except drive them during the show, then they get auto show rebates to buy the cars in the showroom. It works great.

At least someone had fun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21940994)

One of the industry's biggest hits in 2007 was the Flip Video camcorder, an easy-to-use pocket-size device that sells for $120. Executives from Pure Digital Technologies, its maker, visited Las Vegas last year during the show but kept to their hotel suite at the Wynn.

So they spent a weekend in Vegas together in a hotel suite with a camcorder?

creators scaling up planet/population rescue (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21941008)

no gadgets required. you can help more than you might think you can.

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is it time to get real yet? A LOT of energy is being squandered in attempts to keep US in the dark. in the end (give or take a few 1000 years), the creators will prevail (world without end, etc...), as it has always been. the process of gaining yOUR release from the current hostage situation may not be what you might think it is. butt of course, most of US don't know, or care what a precarious/fatal situation we're in. for example; the insidious attempts by the felonious corepirate nazi execrable to block the suns' light, interfering with a requirement (sunlight) for us to stay healthy/alive. it's likely not good for yOUR health/memories 'else they'd be bragging about it? we're intending for the whoreabully deceptive (they'll do ANYTHING for a bit more monIE/power) felons to give up/fail even further, in attempting to control the 'weather', as well as a # of other things/events. []

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the bleeding must be stopped before any healing can begin. jailing a couple of corepirate nazi hired goons would send a clear message to the rest of the world from US. any truthful look at the 'scorecard' would reveal that we are a society in decline/deep doo-doo, despite all of the scriptdead pr ?firm? generated drum beating & flag waving propaganda that we are constantly bombarded with. is it time to get real yet? please consider carefully ALL of yOUR other 'options'. the creators will prevail. as it has always been.

corepirate nazi execrable costs outweigh benefits
(Score:-)mynuts won, the king is a fink)
by ourselves on everyday 24/7

as there are no benefits, just more&more death/debt & disruption. fortunately there's an 'army' of light bringers, coming yOUR way. the little ones/innocents must/will be protected. after the big flash, ALL of yOUR imaginary 'borders' may blur a bit? for each of the creators' innocents harmed in any way, there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/us, as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile, will not be available. 'vote' with (what's left in) yOUR wallet, & by your behaviors. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi glowbull warmongering execrable. some of US should consider ourselves somewhat fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate. it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc.... as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis. concern about the course of events that will occur should the life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order. 'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

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all is not lost/forgotten/forgiven

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"other recent must-haves"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21942112)

"Buy buy buy buy! You are only one iphone away from happiness! Buy buy buy!"

(Funnily enough I don't even KNOW anyone who has an iphone. Not one - everyone still has last month's trendy phone, the Razr. Can't be THAT must-have...)

Trade shows in general are in decline (3, Interesting)

PenguinBoyDave (806137) | more than 6 years ago | (#21942180)

I have seen overall trade show decline in the past four years from both a vendor and attendee perspective. Why? As a vendor, it wasn't a great use of our marketing dollars to drop anywhere from $90K to $150K for a large booth, sponsorship and otherwise, for a show that didn't deliver when it came to converted opportunities. In the late 90's, we'd drop nearly $250K for a show, but as things went on, we noticed that all vendors appeared to scale back...except for Novell...they make Linux World with all the floor space they take up and all the swag they give out.

What I did notice though, and this holds especially true for the Linux World Show in San Francisco (specifically) is an increase of C-level executives attending.

And the reason is... (1)

hotsauce (514237) | more than 6 years ago | (#21944040)

...the web. In the bad old days, you needed to catch the eye of televison or the few print outlets. Today, there are thousands of websites and blogs which can be reached without congregating in a physical space. Add to that that most of these websites and blogs require daily fodder to publish, and are thus much easier to get published in.

The ways to get attention have changed with tech.

Re:And the reason is... (1)

PenguinBoyDave (806137) | more than 6 years ago | (#21944134)

That is an excellent point. I read an article somewhere, and I'll try to find it an post later, that talked about the idea of trade shows going entirely virtual, including keynotes delivered via the web, rather than in person. It is an interesting concept indeed.

The Real Rating System (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 6 years ago | (#21942320)

this week's showcase will feature loud music and brightly-lit stages.

That's all well and good, but tell us about the quality and quantity of Booth Babes this year.

Never heard of the Flip Video camcorder (1)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 6 years ago | (#21942726)

Have you?

'nuff said.

From a CES 2007 attendee (2, Funny)

usul294 (1163169) | more than 6 years ago | (#21942946)

I went to CES a year ago, but all my work for the show was done before it opened. I then had the full 4 days to roam the show and see what I liked. The biggest flashiest booths at the show were Microsoft and Intel, right across from each other. I once heard "Hey when you're done with those quad-cores check out Vista!" Needless to say alot of the booths were useless, I mean at least 20 thousand square feet was devoted to big tv's, and the car audio floor was just fancy cars. The small company booths were fantastic with tons of new and interesting ideas and gadgets. The most satisfying part of the show was when I visited the Microsoft booth and waited until the Vista attendants went to the bathroom, and I grabbed 5 minutes on Vista and somehow managed to crash the system.
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