The International Consumer Electronics Show kicks into full gear this week and I know my inbox will start clogging up with press releases from companies that will be showcasing some of their latest products. The good news is that over 140,000 people are expected to attend the event this year. The bad news is that this is the last time Microsoft will be giving a keynote and this year’s show is unlikely to be the place where a blockbuster product will be introduced.
Former HP CTO Phil McKinney said that for larger companies, the show has become “less important.” He also pointed out that when the show starts to lose more anchor-type brands, it may cause a tipping point. Consumer Electronics Association president Gary Shapiro said that he was sorry to see Microsoft go, but believes that it would have little impact on the popularity of the show. Shapiro said that CES does not have any rival in its ability to attract top tier executives in the tech industry.
The reason why big companies hold their own private events is so that they can filter out all of the other noise at C.E.S. They can have a captive audience to themselves at private events. Sonos CEO John MacFarlane believes that announcing new products at CES would make customers who bought products during the holidays feel annoyed for missing out on the newer products. ?Why would you ever release things just in front of the slowest six months of the year?? said MacFarlane. Sonos stopped exhibiting at CES almost about a decade ago.
When it comes to the preferred timing of the show, Microsoft and Sonos seem to be an exception because exhibitors are routinely surveyed for when the show should be and “January is the preferred time” said Shapiro.
A couple of other reasons why Microsoft decided to bail is because the board of the show indicated to Microsoft that they may be interested in having another company opening up the keynote for the event. The software giant may have felt gypped by this since they have been the opening keynote address 14 times since 1995. According to a source with The New York Times, it is believed that Microsoft was spending about $1 million per year producing the keynote event, which included equipment, cameras, and cameo appearances from celebrities.