I’m becoming increasingly disillusioned by CES. The annual parade touting the self-proclaimed “technology revolution of the year” that is more often that not avoided by those who actually do end up making a difference (not a revolution, if they occured as many times as marketing people like to say I’d never sleep).
January 2010 saw the CES filled with 3D televisions, eBook readers and tablet computers; along with a bright-eyed blogger who spent hours pouring over reports and videos to explain what a delightful time the next twelve months would be for technology, and how important everything we saw then would be. That stupid fuckwit was me.
Let’s look back, shall we? Tablet Computers: bleepy little touchscreens that lacked all the basic necessary features of a laptop that we were convinced, somehow, that we needed if only to fufill the tech-geeks sci-fi fantasy. CES 2010 promised a plethora of choice, a veritable feast of different form-factors, operating systems and features. Sadly, every single tablet that was flaunted at CES was ten minutes off the drawing board, rushed into reality by a bunch of pushy marketing people eager to try and get the most possible coverage at the only consumer-tech show that seems worth bothering with. As a result, the ill-informed reps ended up making all manner of impractical, expensive and in some cases impossible promises about what it could do; meaning that the company can now either release a comparatively disappointing product or keep pushing the release date back to try and include these features. By the time all the hard-work is done, some other big company who didn’t waste their time trying to outdo everyone else at Las Vegas’ annual dick-swinging contest have already released the product you had six months ago but gained such ubiquity that you might as well sell your tablet as a fucking coffee table. The HP Slate held our only hopes against Apple’s inevitable release of the iPad, but they’re perpetual dicking around has left everyone stupid enough to take in the hype clutching an iPad and the remainder of the potential market indifferent to tablets. Well fucking done there.
eBook Readers, something that’s much more my style, were set to explode in choice this year too. CES would’ve had more eInk screens that LCD if that hadn’t been wildly impractical for marketing. Nonetheless, knowing the restrictions that buying a Kindle, the iPod of the eReader world, would place on us, we needed a champion to offer the same functionality but with ePub support. Maybe I’m not getting a full view being, as I am, in the UK, but it seems to me that the slow-to-ship competitors were themselves the architect of their own destruction. The timely price-reduction and rejuvenation of the Amazon Kindle back in late July was the final nail in the coffin. All the competitors that CES played host to are as good as dead now, whilst Amazon (who, unsuprisingly, didn’t attend) are laughing their way to the eBank.
3D Televisions are still such a work-in-progress that it’s not even worth going into. 3D was a good gimmick in pubs to begin with, but even moronic football fans, who would be contented with a tyre and a rope, lost interest after a while. However, it’s not as annoying here because, after all, 3D was always a dubious endeavour: a near-total paradigm shift that most couch-potatoes were not willing to be drawn into. Yet. 3D will continue to survive in poorly-written kids films and movies with flashy graphics but, much like The Gregory Brothers, will struggle to go mainstream. With significant developments to the technology, it might just work; but only if it’s handled well. Companies like Sony and Panasonic, who so eagerly started selling technology that they know is in it’s infancy, will look foolish in the end.
In short, what I’m saying to all companies is this: Avoid CES! You’ll look pompous by loosing your sickening marketing pricks on us, you’ll be touting a half-baked product that won’t do half the stuff you claim it to when it’s finally released. Instead, stay at home working on your stuff, release as soon after CES as possible if the product is ready and watch what happens.