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CES: Dead and Buried? Don’t Hold Your Breath

Having just returned from CES, I’m surprised to see the “CES is dying” coverage.

This seems to be due, in large part, to Microsoft pulling out of the show.

Is the show changing? Absolutely. Is it the powerhouse it once was? Perhaps not. Is it going away by 2015 as some have suggested? Let’s just say rumors of its demise have been greatly exaggerated.

While in the past, there was more razor sharp focus (it was easy to pinpoint the biggest trend), the breadth of the show has changed that. In conversations with dozens of media and analysts about the biggest trends, I didn’t hear the same answer twice. I would argue that this is a good thing.

Answers included ultrabooks, smart TVs, 3D and, my personal favorite – a stroller that is host to a USB drive and closes itself at the push of a button. Anybody who has seen me struggle with a stroller understands why this is so appealing.

A thriving economy is a diverse economy, and that’s the case for a specific subset of the economy (in this case, technology) as well.

Is CES massive? Absolutely, and it’s probably ready for a reboot. Where else can you find a concept car from Mercedes that is beyond a price tag, surrounded by hundreds of Chinese original equipment manufacturer (OEM) companies jockeying for the same audience?

But by every account, the state of the CES economy is strong. Schwag is still big (I even got handed a Five Hour Energy as I left the tram from my hotel one day).

The bottom line is that this year CES was more of the same. More of the fatigue, more of the madness and more of the cool tech gadgets we all drool over and then, a few years later, clamor to buy.

What it wasn’t, at least from what I could see, was waning in any real way.

So, as many have said before me: CES is dead. Long live CES.

Devin Davis can be reached at ddavis@sterlingpr.com. Follow him on Twitter @DevinDavis.

Image via International Business Times.

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CES was boring, but that’s actually a good thing

Yes, I know CES was more than a week ago. Unfortunately, the sinus infection given to me by some anonymous show attendee (I’m looking at YOU sneezy guy on the monorail) has forestalled my blogging until now. But don’t worry. You didn’t miss anything – CES went exactly as planned. If it wasn’t 4G, a tablet or 3DTV then it really didn’t garner much attention (with one exception, but I’m getting to that). And, despite the lack of surprises, this is an encouraging development for the industry.

Why? Well, the last thing we need right now is disruption – the predictive quality of this year’s show really illustrated for me the developmental path we’re on for the next year or so. Until 4G services become truly widespread and jumpstart new types of service development, I wouldn’t be surprised if the news we see takes the form of incremental improvements to what we’ve already got. I can’t think of a more stable path for a recovering economy. We need some time to see which of these spaghetti noodles actually sticks to the ceiling so to speak. And most of them won’t – I guarantee that 90 percent of the tablets (I counted at least 18 different models) displayed won’t be coming back in 2012.

For me, what was much more interesting were the dramatic improvements in infrastructure that are taking place to support the coming wave of new services and content. No where were these improvements better highlighted than in villas attached to the Hilton, where companies like Sigma Designs

1_Sigma

held court with literally hundreds of OEMs, showcasing the latest silicon technologies to support streaming media, home entertainment networking, 3DTV and much, much more. You can read more about Sigma’s advances here and here.

As for other interesting items, instead of focusing on 4G or tablets , let’s take a look at some of the unsung gadgets at this year’s CES.

Truly useful iPhone cases – I tried to buy one of these on the show floor, but no dice.

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Creepy Animatronic Toys – Finally, a whole new generation of toys that scare your kids silly. This is the biggest breakthrough since clowns…

 

Pre-Natal Education Technologyhttp://www.babyplus.com/ – Helicopter parents everywhere rejoice! You can now educate your child BEFORE he or she is born! I can only imagine this will jumpstart the race for “exclusive” pre-natal education that requires a waiting list…

Time-Wasting 2.0 – This is just a ball that you control with your iPhone. No, it doesn’t do anything else. I still want one.

 

On a more serious note, there were a lot of green-oriented consumer electronics that seemed to be overlooked by many in the press. Things like Eton’s solar-powered portable speakers  were really quite interesting.

6_Etonspeakers

This green theme extended to many different products, including one that seemed to steal the show. The nPower PEG (short for Personal Energy Generator) from Tremont Electric  is a small device that you put in your backpack or purse as you go about your day. The kinetic energy generated from your movement charges batteries that can then charge your mobile phone, camera, etc.  Neat huh?

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What’s more interesting to me as a PR person is the power this clean little story generated on its own. While companies like Panasonic spent millions and millions of dollars on enormous booths and sand sculptors (ostentatious examples below)

 

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…Tremont Electric was able to secure more coverage than many brand names in places like Good Morning America, NBC, BBC, G4, Forbes, the Wall Street Journal and many, many more without as much as lifting a finger. The lesson? A great story trumps everything when it comes to good PR.