Make us your home page
Instagram

The 'CES curse'? Gadget show has poor record

At last year’s International Consumer Electronics Show, one of the most highly touted new products was 3-D HDTV, but like many other showcase items recently, the hype exceeded eventual sales.  The annual gathering kicks off Tuesday in Las Vegas.

Associated Press (2011)

At last year’s International Consumer Electronics Show, one of the most highly touted new products was 3-D HDTV, but like many other showcase items recently, the hype exceeded eventual sales. The annual gathering kicks off Tuesday in Las Vegas.

NEW YORK — The largest trade show in the Americas must be a great place to show off new products, right? Wrong. The International Consumer Electronics Show is quickly becoming a launch pad for products that fall flat.

When the annual conclave kicks off next week, organizers expect more than 140,000 people — roughly the population of Syracuse, N.Y. — to descend on Las Vegas. They will mill around 1.8 million square feet of booths and exhibits, equivalent to 31 football fields.

The 2,800 or so exhibitors are hoping to set the tone for the year by showing off tons of tablet computers, throngs of 3-D TVs and untold numbers of slim, light laptops called ultrabooks.

But a look back at the products heavily promoted at CES in recent years reveals few successes.

• In 2009, "netbooks" — tiny, cheap laptops — were a hot category at the show. They did have a good year, but interest was already waning when Apple obliterated the category with the launch of the iPad in 2010.

• In 2010, TV makers made a big push with 3-D sets, hoping to ride the popularity of 3-D movies such as Avatar. Sales turned out to be disappointing as buyers balked at wearing glasses and found little to watch in 3-D. The technology isn't going away, but 3-D looks to be just another feature among many of today's high-end TVs.

• In 2011, there were more than 100 brands of tablet computers on display, all trying to ride the coattails of the iPad. Many of them didn't even make it to the market; those that did couldn't make a dent in Apple's market share.

Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet did start to crack Apple's hegemony late in the year, but it wasn't shown at CES.

Verizon Wireless got attention at the 2011 show with the first consumer devices to use its ultrafast "4G LTE" data network. Although those did well over the year, the company upstaged itself by announcing, a week after the show, that it would start selling the iPhone.

A big part of the "curse" of the show is that the company that has been driving trends in the industry, Apple, doesn't show products there. It doesn't have a booth, and its executives don't give speeches. It hasn't had an official presence at all since the '90s, though some of its employees go.

It's not that Apple dislikes CES in particular. It just doesn't do trade shows. When it has something new to sell, it puts on its own press conference. That way, it can control everything.

Microsoft seems to be adopting the same strategy. It revealed last month that the 2012 show will be the last one that its CEO will kick off with a keynote speech. That ends a run of 15 straight years. It's also the last time Microsoft has a booth at the show.

So what potential flops will be hyped at the show this year?

• Windows 8 will be an important new product in 2012, but the late-year launch means PC and tablet makers hoping for a CES boost have to wait.

• As a stopgap, PC makers will show off ultrabooks. They're essentially Windows versions of the MacBook Air laptop, which uses chips instead of a spinning hard drive for storage.

• TV makers will be talking about "smart," Internet-connected sets, but they're not exactly new.

However, we'll see the first full-sized TVs that use organic light-emitting diodes in place of LCDs. LG Electronics has confirmed that it will be showing off a 55-inch set, to be sold late in the year. The price hasn't been disclosed, but is likely to be high.

The 'CES curse'? Gadget show has poor record 01/06/12 [Last modified: Friday, January 6, 2012 10:19pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Last steel beam marks construction milestone for Tom and Mary James' museum

    Growth

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom and Mary James on Wednesday signed their names to the last steel beam framing the 105-ton stone mesa that will be built at the entrance of the museum that bears their name: the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art.

    The topping-out ceremony of the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art was held Wednesday morning in downtown St. Petersburg. Mary James (from left), husband Tom and Mayor Rick Kriseman signed the final beam before it was put into place. When finished, the $55 million museum at 100 Central Ave. will hold up to 500 pieces of the couple's 3,000-piece art collection. [Courtesy of James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art]
  2. Heights Public Market to host two Tampa Bay food trucks

    Business

    TAMPA — The Heights Public Market announced the first two food trucks for its "rotating stall," which will feature new restaurants every four months. Surf and Turf and Empamamas will be rolled out first.

    Heights Public Market is opening this summer inside the Tampa Armature Works building.
[SKIP O'ROURKE   |   Times file photo]

  3. Author Randy Wayne White could open St. Pete's biggest restaurant on the pier

    Food & Dining

    ST. PETERSBURG — The story begins with Yucatan shrimp.

    St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin, pilot Mark Futch, Boca Grande, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, and author and businessman Randy Wayne White,  Sanibel, exit a Maule Super Rocket seaplane after taking a fight around Tampa Bay off the St. Petersburg waterfront, 6/28/17.  White and his business partners are in negotiations with the City of St. Petersburg to build a fourth Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grille on the approach to the St. Petersburg Pier with a second event space on the pier according to White. The group met near Spa Beach after a ground breaking ceremony for the new pier. "We want to have our business open by the time the pier opens," said White. Other Dr. Ford restaurants are located on Sanibel, Captiva and Ft. Myers Beach. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times
  4. Guilty plea for WellCare Health Plans former counsel Thaddeus Bereday

    Business

    Former WellCare Health Plans general counsel Thaddeus M.S. Bereday pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to the Florida Medicaid program, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set, acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow of the Middle District …

    WellCare Health Plans former general counsel Thaddeus M.S. Bereday, pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to the Florida Medicaid program, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set, acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow of the Middle District of Florida stated Wednesday. [LinkedIn handout]
  5. DOT shows alternatives to former Tampa Bay Express toll lanes

    Transportation

    TAMPA — State transportation officials are evaluating at least a half-dozen alternatives to the controversial Tampa Bay interstate plan that they will workshop with the community over the next 18 months.

    Florida Department of Transportation consultant Brad Flom explains potential alternatives to adding toll lanes to Interstate 275 during a meeting Wednesday at the DOT’s Tampa office. Flom presented seven diagrams, all of which swapped toll lanes for transit, such as light rail or express bus, in the I-275 corridor from downtown Tampa to Bearss Avenue.