Is CES still relevant?


CES is one of the largest consumer electronics expos in the world. This thing is huge. I don’t think it really translates how huge it is until you actually go and walk the show floor – for four days – and still don’t cover everything. There are a ton of electronics companies there but not all of them are necessarily in Pocketnow’s wheelhouse. There is a lot going on is the world of robotics, automotive, and appliances. Nothing sexier than that new refrigerator, right?

This year, we had a lot of coverage coming out of CES – smart glasses, phone announcements, and quite a few accessories. Trust me, there are a TON of accessories coming out of CES. So it was definitely a news-worthy show. But of late, I’m starting to wonder just how exciting CES is for our audience here at Pocketnow. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great show, but when when most exciting piece of tech that I saw was smart glasses, I don’t know how well that speaks for the products there.

mate-8-011Flight of the OEMs

The problem is really three-fold. First, OEMs have all but abandoned CES and trade shows in general. Announcements at tradeshows tend to come in the days before the shows, if at all. That’s assuming there’s any relation to the show at all. Companies like Motorola have been relying entirely on their own events for some time now. Huawei did release a new phone, tablet and two watches, but they did so on Tuesday, when CES actually started the next day. Technically speaking, it wasn’t part of CES, but it did take advantage of the audience.

Second, tradeshows are largely opportunities for producers and retailers to meet up and showcase wares. Honestly, as a consumer, CES is not all that exciting. Tradeshows are not meant to showcase wares for consumers to buy. Rather, they’re there to showcase wares for large distribution centers. The booths at these tradeshows are really only there for companies to connect, not consumers.

Finally, CES in particular covers a wide range of consumer electronics – not just phones and tablets. Perhaps shows like MWC might be excluded from this particular argument, but there were a ton of appliances, automobiles, drones, and a other products that Pocketnow and many of our competitors simply do not cover. There is a lot of noise that surrounds a tradeshow and products coming out of the show can get lost.

HTC Vive VR Hands OnAnd yet…

This year, Pocketnow had its largest team ever on the show floor, running – in some cases literally – from product to product to try and cover as much as possible. For as many products that fall outside of our purview, there are a ton of products that are right up our alley. Everything from phones, to accessories, to wearables, and even things that are controlled by phones – IoT and VR come to mind – are well represented on this massive show floor.

And let’s talk about accessories – there are a ton of cases, speakers, Bluetooth items – covering walls and tables everywhere you look. We saw innovative smart glasses, and ear buds, and were interested enough to cover them on video because they were pretty darn cool. And booth after booth were bursting at the seams will all this stuff that we do cover, and even with our biggest team ever, we were running from the time we woke up (even if some of us got up a couple hours before others…ahem until the time we collapsed into bed. So there is stuff to do – no worries there.

decibullz-2Cutting through the noise

Of course we’d love to see more phone announcements, but CES is also an opportunity to take a close look at a lot of product out there that is related to phones, tablets, and wearables while not actually being those items. It allows us to focus on those products from established brands and bright up and comers that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to focus on if we were drowning in phones.

Overall, CES is such a wonderfully gigantic show, there is enough there to keep any outlet running around full time. We’re focused on mobile, and at a trade show like CES, that’s probably a good thing because there is so much we didn’t get a chance to look at because it wasn’t what we do – but we were still interested in it on a personal level. And that’s what we’re really here for, to find those things that are interesting and to pick them out from a sea of others and bring them to you the reader.

So what do you think? Do you look forward to our tradeshow coverage, even if there aren’t a lot of phones to show off? Or would you prefer to hang back and wait for OEM release events? Do you think OEMs should return to these trade shows to bring you all the awesome at once? Sound off below in the comments and let’s see if we can figure this out.

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About The Author
Adam Doud
Adam joined the tech world after watching Jon Rubenstein demo the most epic phone ever at CES 2009. He is webOS enthusiast, Windows Phone fan, and Android skeptic. He loves the outdoors, is an avid Geocacher, Cubs/Blackhawks fan, and family man living in Sweet Home Chicago, where he STILL hosts monthly webOS meetups (Don’t call it a comeback!). He can be found tweeting all things tech as @DeadTechnology, or chi-town sports at @oneminutecubs. Read more about Adam Doud!