No wonder so many new products introduced at CES never actually make it to store shelves. Companies are forced to pre-announce unfinished goods—and tip off their competition in the process.
Finally, CES has become a platform for electronics trade groups to push what they hope will become new, exciting trends. Sometimes, these trends catch on; the VCR (1970), consumer camcorder (1981), and the DVD (1996) all debuted at CES shows.
But lately, the industry has been pushing technology nobody wants. The 2013 show will be the seventh consecutive edition where we’re told we’ll surf the Web on our TV sets, and the fourth where we’re told we want to put on 3D glasses to watch TV, and the third where cheap Chinese iPad clones will flood the show floor. Year after year, the public has spoken: no matter how much you shove these technologies in our faces, we’re not interested.
So what is CES? A very expensive tradeshow that’s at the wrong time of the year, attended by fewer important companies, trying to set an agenda the public doesn’t want, by throwing 2,700 press releases at journalists who have room for only a few stories.
Here’s one more safe prediction: In the tech business, the only constant is change. If CES can’t justify its existence soon, it could be the next Comdex.