Since its inception in 1967, the Consumer Electronics Show has unveiled groundbreaking technologies from the compact disc to the portable computer. More than 140,000 people are expected at this week's event in Las Vegas. But it "is unlikely to be where any blockbuster products of 2012 are introduced," says Nick Wingfield in The New York Times. In recent years, many of the hottest gadgets — like Apple's iPhone and Amazon's Kindle Fire — have debuted elsewhere. Apple doesn't go, and Microsoft is pulling out after this year. Does CES still matter?
It does — even in the shadow of Apple: Of course CES still matters, says James Temble in the San Francisco Chronicle. These days, it's about "catching up with Apple" — last year it showcased tablets going after the iPad; this year it will introduce ultrabooks trying "to match the weight, thinness, and power of the MacBook Air." The competition brings "big changes in the market" and cheaper price points — "always a good thing for consumers."
"The story of CES 2012: Catching up with Apple"
But CES buzz doesn't necessarily translate to sales: CES is such a huge spectacle, says Roger Cheng at CNET, that the media in attendance dash around to cover as many new gadgets as possible, and "critical analysis" is often lost. When buzzy new products debut — like the 2010 darlings, 3-D TVs — they fail to generate sales. Despite "past successes" — like Microsoft's best-selling Xbox — CES just isn't an accurate litmus test for future dollar signs.
"CES not always the greatest guide for commercial success"
CES isn't for the bloggers: "CES is about selling real goods to real people, not impressing some tech blogger with a 1 terabyte cellphone," says John Biggs at TechCrunch. It's where "the mom-and-pop electronics shop in Scranton trying to fight off Amazon and Best Buy comes to CES to see which TVs to stock." With or with out giants like Apple and Microsoft, CES will matter as long as it makes money — which it does. "When that money can be made elsewhere, CES will go away."
"Nobody Wins at CES"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How U.S. special forces are preparing for the worst-case scenario in North Korea
- I hate Ayn Rand — but here's why my fellow conservatives love her
- The weird obsession that's ruining the GOP
- The 11 worst fast food restaurants in America
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- The secret to Gabrielle Hamilton's amazing grilled cheese sandwiches
- Deficit scolds are the most crazed ideologues in America
- A scientific fact-check of 2001: A Space Odyssey
- 7 language habits that reveal your age
- The biggest lesson Obama failed to learn from Bush
Subscribe to the Week