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Consumer Electronics Show 2012

January 11, 2012 by staff 

Consumer Electronics Show 2012Consumer Electronics Show 2012, Microsoft Corp.’s last go around at the Consumer Electronics Show was a monster-sized bash with little substance. Even Ryan Seacrest couldn’t save it. Microsoft’s keynote speech has opened the CES since 1998, but the company also disclosed recently that it wouldn’t take part in the show in 2013. For its final keynote, then, it spent a boatload of money. Aside from American Idol host Seacrest, who doesn’t come cheap, it brought an entire choir out on stage to sing tweets from Twitter.

While that’s all great entertainment, it’s not technology news. It doesn’t help the company advance its position in the marketplace, and it really doesn’t do much to help sell products.

So the company’s decision to gracefully bow out of the spectacle of the world’s largest consumer electronics show comes as no surprise.

Apple Inc. doesn’t attend CES. Apple holds its own events when its products are ready.

The philosophy makes sense: Finish your product, show it off, and, because you hope that consumers will think it is as cool as you do, make sure that the product is available.

CES doesn’t allow companies to work that way. It’s held in the first week of January, when most companies are recovering from the holiday shopping madness that is a crucial season for electronics retailers. According to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), which puts on the CES annually, more than 32 per cent of all consumer spending over the Christmas holidays is on electronic devices.

A week or two after the biggest shopping season of the year has ended, the show has a bunch of companies showcasing hot new products.

However, whenever the show is held, engineers are forced to make the completion date. Whether the product is really ready for prime time or not, the show must go on.

Over the years, Microsoft has previewed hundreds of products at CES. In recent years, those have included Kinect, which it showed in 2009, but didn’t actually release until 2010. Vista, Facebook over Xbox Live, Windows 7. All were shown well in advance of release dates. Who could forget chief executive Steve Ballmer’s unveiling of the HP Slate PC in 2010? It was eventually released as the HP Touchpad in July 2011 before falling on its face and disappearing.

This week’s show was no different. Microsoft previewed Windows 8, which still doesn’t have a release date, and highlighted the “Metro” interface on its Windows Mobile devices, which has been available for a year. The only other news was that the company’s massively popular Kinect camera sensor will be available for use on Windows computers sometime this spring.

Mix that in with a fantastic light show, some special video presentations with upbeat music, celebrity appearances and Ballmer continuously restating how great things are and you have a CES keynote.

This isn’t to say that CES isn’t useful or worthwhile. The show can be a boon to companies ready to show off technological breakthroughs. Remember, this is the place where the CD player, Blu-ray, 3D TVs and even the alkaline battery were introduced to the world. Keynote space should be saved for those kinds of breakthroughs, even if the companies behind them aren’t multi-billion-dollar corporations.

Instead, CEA has opted to let the big companies have their say in the spotlight, while attendees get treated to meetings with celebrities such as Shaquille O’Neal, LL Cool J, Snooki and, in past years, Robin Williams and Lady Gaga. The real technical innovation gets overshadowed, a fact underscored by the addition of Seacrest to Microsoft’s presentation.

However, Microsoft appears to have decided that CES needs more technology and less celebrity. That is why the 2012 keynote was its last at CES. Moving forward, Microsoft will hold an event when it actually has something to crow about.

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