CES could benefit from a rear-view mirror

Shane Schick dreams of adding some much-needed business intelligence to the world's largest gadget fair.

I've never even been to CES, but I'm already sick of the roller-coaster.

Every year we come back from the Christmas holidays when suddenly the Consumer Electronics Show opens in Las Vegas and vendors start dropping new gadgets as though they were sitting in the bottom of Santa's bag. The frenzy around CES is becoming downright irritating, all the more so because IT departments can no longer afford to ignore it. Sure, many of the portable, personal, digital assists unveiled this week will flop, but a few will likely find their way behind the firewall. If only there was a good way of knowing which ones.

I would actually like to propose such a way, although I doubt the CES organizers would do it. Amid all the launches and keynotes focusing on the future, I think CES would be well served to devote a little more time to its past. Imagine a session, called CES Catch-Up, in which experts evaluated the relative success or failure of the devices that were considered sure-fire hits one to five years earlier.

In some cases this would be an easy exercise. If a gadget was a hit, it might seem superfluous to highlight it. But it might still be worth it to look at the kind of pain such technologies brought to enterprise IT departments, or even individual consumers who lost data, experienced poor integration with the rest of their digital office or home. If the device was a miss, it would be valuable to dig deeper into the reasons why, and see if they offer any clues to the kind of consumer expectations, behavioral characteristics and tolerance for faults that make or break technology products.

The reason CES Catch-Up probably won't happen, of course, is that it would embarrass the vendors who all occasionally invest in products that don't find acceptance in the marketplace. CES Catch-Up would be considered poor sportsmanship in a tournament for whose small, sleek handheld can attract the more euphoria from Engadget or Gizmodo. It's as though, in the wake of Comdex and other defunct technology trade shows, no one wants to stop the momentum of an event that's actually attracting attendees.

But there's a big difference between CES and Comdex. The latter switched focus in its final years away from mere product exhibition to user education. CES, on the other hand, is shamelessly about gear, not vision. While it features a lot of the same talking heads -- Intel's Paul Otellini, Bill Gates in his final appearance -- their role is more akin to Shopping Channel host than thought leader.

Comdex Catch-Up might have been a lot more realistic than CES Catch-Up, but I still dream of adding some much-needed business intelligence to the world's largest gadget fair. The irony is that consumers today have a much higher level of sophistication around technology products, yet shows like CES don't offer much to help them (or their vendors) to a better job of using what we provide them. Instead, everyone surrounding CES acts like the end users of old, gaping as one might at a conveyer belt each year at what's shiny and new, and hoping it will be better than the toys that disappointed us the year before.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Shane Schick

ComputerWorld Canada
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?