Was This the CES that CES Needed to Be?

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In our annual forecast of marketing trends, we said this about CES:

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has been eclipsed by South By Southwest (SXSW) but both need a breakout show in 2014. Last year’s CES and SXSW were not as successful in generating buzz as in prior years. The problem with the last two years of CES has been its focus on the latest TVs – at a time when people are more likely watching TV on their tablets than on a “TV set.” (Also Apple does not participate in CES.)

Based on articles like Nick Bilton’s in the New York Times: “Disruptions: At CES, a Big Stage for Big Dreams but Fewer Surprises,” that CES 2014 did not quite deliver on the excitement and buzz. Here’s Bilton’s recap of CES 2014:

But in some ways, this year’s show was a far cry from the shows of old. CES has been around since 1967 (it was held in Manhattan until the late 1970s), and over the years it has been the place to spot some real innovations. In 1970, the videocassette recorder was introduced at CES. In 1981, the compact disc player had its debut there. High-definition TV was unveiled in 1998, the Microsoft Xbox in 2001.

This year’s crop of products seemed a bit underwhelming by comparison.

Ouch if you’re CES.

For companies considering CES 2015 to launch new products, you may want to think of a different strategy. This is at least the second consecutive boring CES (which we predicted last year, too). For the news programs that are thinking about sending their weathercasters to the show next year, you might encounter turbulence because highlighting cool, must-have tech is apparently getting harder. 

The one exception that could help next year’s CES (as it did this year’s): wearable tech and devices that are part of the Internet of Things. (I know we sound self-aggrandizing here but we are trying to track which predictions we got right or wrong, but we predicted wearable tech and the Internet of Things to be big in 2014. Our usual tone is not so self-congratulatory.)


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