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What is CES?

CES is the Consumer Electronics Show. It is the place where innovations from all over the world in the field of consumer electronics are gathered and promoted. It is not a gigantic version of BestBuy. It is a place where companies like BestBuy come to see what is new. Nothing, theoretically, is for sale here. These are products that are supposed to appear over the coming year.

Many have been critical of CES: Why have the show in January, when people are burned out from the Christmas Holiday shopping hype? This completely misunderstands CES. CES is where companies gather to figure out what they will sell you NEXT Christmas. Most of the new products do not appear until mid-year, if they appear at all.

That last sentence brings up another interesting aspect of CES. Most of what you see at CES will never appear on a store shelf and will never be available for purchase. Many of the items are prototypes which are often killed before they can appear for consumers.

As you travel to some of the smaller company booths, you also see something interesting: A huge assortment of really cool gadgets that will never appear in the U.S. Many of these are designed for sale in countries with lower income levels. The gadgets tend to be “almost as cool as an iPad or iPod,” but are more cheaply made. Sometimes, they even have extra cool features like 3D screens. Unfortunately, the build quality, feature set, and software are simply not up to standards demanded in the U.S. Nonetheless, these products are still often really cool. I love traveling through these back vendor booths.

CES is a glimpse into the electronics world of the coming year. It is a look into electronics firms’ efforts to create “the next big thing.” Most of this stuff will fail. In fact, some of the most promoted and loved products will fail badly (Motorola Xoom, Blackberry Playbook, etc.).

CES is all about innovation….and a lot of hype.

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