Future of CES

CES, where is this show going? I just attended my 15th CES in the last 18 years, and thought I’d share some of my thoughts. In wandering the show floors at various events over the course of the year, I like to judge an event’s health by looking for a few things.

First, innovation. Innovation comes in a few different flavors – first, in the products that are being provided. Are manufacturers and suppliers introducing anything new and exciting? Is there a palpable buzz about a particular product? Second (and more telling, for me), how are these vendors presenting themselves? Are they utilizing new technologies and displays to bring attention to themselves? Are they forward-thinking in the way that they’ve approached the event?  Did they spend some time and put some thought in the content that was developed to support the product or service they’re providing?

At this year’s CES, I and my Helios colleagues were fairly underwhelmed by the offerings and presentations of the various exhibitors. There were a few truly noteworthy efforts in the space – notably Samsung (and their robotic flat panels, which were an awesome display), and Verizon (who threw every technology they could find at their booth, including multitouch, projection mapping, facial recognition, and more – many of which worked nicely). Aside from those few oases of technical excellence, the floor was awash with puzzling displays, confusing presentations, and disappointing booths. Perhaps folks like Microsoft, Motorola, Blackberry, Nokia, and others who have recently fled the show floor have already read the writing on the wall… or perhaps this is a show in a state of flux, searching for an identity while throwing a mishmash of consumer products at anyone who will attend. Regardless, this is a show that seems to be on its way out – and it has a long road back to the glories of yesteryear.

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