Spinal Tap's Stonehenge as a metaphor for the spectacle of CES

Now that the CES has trickled out of the press, the displays are down and the support crews are back with their families, let’s revisit one last time.  I have to tell you I was personally a little let down this year.  Since I watched it from the comfort of my home, did you guys see anything interesting?  Or just a bit more of the same from last year?  3D, Internet TV, some new tablet devices, Windows 7 phone, some other mobile stuff, snappy USB devices and even more ridiculous over-the-top fantasy cars.  But since you have all likely read the other thousand CES roundups (here’s a good one), I won’t bore you with more of the same….But I do need to talk about one fantastic article that captured the absurdity of CES and related directly to a thought I had about my favorite topic.

In a great piece The Most Worthless Week in Tech, Farhad Manjoo talks about how silly CES has become in terms of the bluster and hot air that the industry’s titans blow just to take advantage of the press coverage.  In a nice rant on Microsoft, Farhad says

I don’t mean to single out Microsoft, because it is merely the worst offender in the overcrowded, overstuffed, chaotic, and profoundly pointless vaporware parade known as CES… Every major tech company follows the same tired CES script: They put on by-the-book press conferences that begin with lots of demos of stuff we already know about—count on Intel, for instance, to always show you how fast its new chips are (hint: faster than last year’s chips). Next, with all the fanfare of the Second Coming, tech giants offer a few incremental improvements to old products. (Look, Microsoft improved the Surface computer!) Finally, they show off things like the HP Slate—gadgets in very early stages of development that have been rushed to the show and barely work as prototypes, with little chance of actually getting to market anytime soon.

I love the truthiness of that!  To pile on to vaporware and relating to my topic, I find it so funny that Ultraviolet – after 27 months of work – made a slew of announcements that they were “ready” and that the world should look out for a mid-year launch.  Well, not to be a Fool or anything, but if they were so sure of themselves, why were industry execs whisked off to a private hotel room to see the demo?  Wouldn’t you think that they would want to make a splash with a badass booth with dry ice and bikini clad girls?  But I digress.

I’m glad I stayed home.  Next year, I think I’ll really mix things up and figure out how to calculate the carbon footprint of CES.  Imagine the environmental impact of all us nerds on expense accounts in Vegas!  And then maybe I’ll get Greenpeace to do something disorderly.  Now that would be a cool CES.

The meantime, here’s a laugh for you that is symbolic of CES.  Enjoy.


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