Editorial: The super exciting failure of CES 2018

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 9
After working hard to dismiss iPhone X as too expensive, AirPods as a very minor success and HomePod as far-off vaporware missing the window of opportunity afforded to smart speakers, the low-paid writers hired by the Associated Press, Bloomberg, CNET and Reuters to fill the gaps that regular staff can't get to are again converging on Las Vegas to depict the really big prototype TV concepts of CES as being potentially affordable, commercially significant at some point in the future--and anything but vaporware.


CES: the zombie trade show as relevant as the Yellow Pages

I can't remember the last time I resorted to looking up a business in a telephone book. CES is sort of the same thing; it's like renting a DVD from a store or flipping over a cassette to use the other side of the tape. It's actually been three years since I wrote anything substantial about CES, and that was my 15 year history of how very little of real importance was every delivered at the event, particularly when compared to Apple's annual launches of new products and technologies that dropped with industry-shifting significance every year.

CES is basically a series of press releases, delivered in person inside of a very large room. It's like a live action version of a tech journalist's inbox, but with literal shouting rather than just unsolicited emails using emboldened all caps.

Occasionally, there are minor novel products, new updates and tech trends at CES that are worthy of a passing note, just as with one's spam box. However, the less experienced the journalist is, the more substantial all of those messages seem to be. That's why big-headline companies hiring low-paid writers see CES as a goldmine of clickbait.

The biggest news of CES is not really "news"

Imagine the soul-killing drudgery of having to feign excitement over Alexa-integration in everything from your sous-vide 4.0 to your electronically-aimed bidet. This sort of thing isn't really breaking news; it's incremental deployment along the lines of the kind of announcements Apple trickles out throughout the year: new banks supporting Apple Pay, new studies making use of ResearchKit, new vehicles supporting Car Play and new devices for sale that integrate with HomeKit, Apple Watch or the Heath app.

For smaller developers (relative to the global leading tech firms), CES provides a crowded showcase for their new gadgets. Moen smart showers with Alexa and Siri integration; Kohler faucets that work with HomeKit; Orbit outdoor HomeKit sprinklers; Whirlpool appliances that connect to AppleWatch; smart toothbrushes from Kolibrees (using ARKit!) and Colgate, (designed to work with ResearchKit!); HomeKit-enabled baby monitors from Netgear, and a variety of other batteries, hubs and HomeKit accessories.


The Colgate Smart Electronic Toothbrush uses Apple ResearchKit


These things are all novel and sort of interesting, but could just as well be discovered in a trip to the Apple Store or browsing an online catalog. None will garner the adoption of AirPods, and collectively they're worth less than Beats, the acquisition that concern troll clickbait bloggers like to suggest isn't and won't ever be worth anything, just because they say so, even though Apple Music and the W1-powered products Apple sells are now one of the biggest forces in the music industry globally.

Giant tech firms with nothing really to offer

Beyond smaller projects and developers, CES also offers a showcase for the tech giants with nothing to offer. Those that do have successful products don't bother to show up at CES, which is probably the worst place to seek any focused spotlight for a significant new product. It's like yelling fire in a theater where there's an active shooter already firing.

Samsung was there showing the super big TVs it brings every year, as well as its "smart refrigerator" sporting no toaster but a big iPad that does nothing but ring doorbells and "view camera feeds from inside their homes to see what's happening in another room." Who thinks this stuff up? That's straight up asinine.


Samsung's Family Hub is a refrigerator that doesn't even toast


Google's big reveal was copying Amazons equally puzzling Echo Show (which combines a stationary, small TV with a spy camera and microphone that records you inside your home for marketing purposes)--and having its partners build it. You might call this kind of partner-deployment delegation "Google TV-style" or "Honeycomb tablet-style" or "Android Wear-style". The pattern here is that Google uses "partners" to launch the turds it knows can't fly even as far as its own Pixel, Chrome and Nexus flightless flops.

Remember that Google has been struggling with its hardware strategy just as long as Apple has been successful building iOS devices; the difference is that Apple has generated around a trillion dollars while Google has only burned through a decade of ad revenues with little to show for it apart from a free "Android inside" sticker on lots of products from China that dont really benefit Google at all.

But sure, maybe the companies that can't compete with Amazon will be able to with help from Google Assistant, just like the companies that can't compete with Apple have done really well partnered with Android.

Speaking of which: Sony showed up with a bunch of Android phones nobody is going to buy as well as a $30,000 projected 4K TV. Not a single soul remarked that the price of this luxury gadget was three times as high as the Gold Apple Watch that every last person on earth scoffed about as being so terribly expensive and a bad sign that Apple was aloof and out of touch with the middle America voter back in 2015. I wonder how many rich people in China will take photos of their dog wearing one or two of these new Sony projectors?

LG showed off a prototype rollup OLED huge TV display that you can't buy, but CES reporters didn';t talk about it like Apple's 3-month delayed HomePod. They fawned about how exciting it was that the technology existed to create a demo of a product that won't ever sell, from a company that can't even make money selling a variety of conventional smartphones (including Google's massively advertised Pixel 2 XL, which isn't attempting futuristic rollup functionality--or even a bezel free design--but instead still struggles to work as a crappy OLED screen with bad burn in issues and extreme color shift on top of a series of construction and integration problems including shipping without an OS).

It's almost as if CES is saying "pay no attention to the products not selling behind the curtain-sized prototype TV vaporware!"

But that's not new, that's what CES has been for the last two decades.
fotoformatlollivercornchipwatto_cobra
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 58
    I'm waiting for the 32k TV. Figure it'll be introduced at CES 2026.
    chabigcornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 58
    If I went to CES as a reporter, I would do a big news story about the oh so many carbon copy consumer crap booths that fill the venues. Go to each one and ask what makes their products unique. Perhaps they have a different kind of sparkle on their iPhone case? The real fun at CES are the lunatics that show up and get a booth. When I went two years ago, I made it a point to stop and talk to them. Wonderful insanity. One dude was handing out postcards with "The Red Pill" on them. He had a nutty idea that we would pay to setup a private network of friends and block all other evil content from the internet. Something like that anyway. Did he think this was his big chance to get rich off the internet revolution? I have no idea. CES is a dumpster that has not yet been set on fire (but perhaps should be).
    magman1979radarthekatPickUrPoisoncornchipwatto_cobraredgeminipa
  • Reply 3 of 58
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,461member
    I for one am pretty interested in the next gen TCL 6-series Roku sets announced at CES. I'm pretty certain those won't be vaporware, and hopefully another biggest punch for the dollar as my current P-series that some publications tagged as best HDTV of the year. Amazing value and great picture for a quarter of the price of OLED.  

    ...And Samsung revealing an actual microLED TV "wall" at CES? Had no idea it was even possible yet. Samsung is obviously a lot further along with the tech than I realized.

    As for "smart" speakers there's going to be no shortage of those from the traditional audio companies including some of the best ones:  Altec Lansing, Anker Innovations, Bang & Olufsen, Braven, iHome, JBL, Jensen, LG, Klipsch, Knit Audio, Memorex, RIVA Audio and SōLIS are all licensing Google Assistant and/or Amazon's Alexa for theri 2018 lines.

    I'll be looking for aggressive competitive pricing on great sound from top-tier speaker manufacturers with the bonus of broadly supported smart home integration. I wouldn't argue a bit with replacing some of my speaker gear with better sound at lower cost. Maybe it's a man thing tho since the wife seems happy enough with music from a Home Mini while in the bath. I'm a bit pickier.
    edited January 9 larryamuthuk_vanalingamtokyojimu
  • Reply 4 of 58
    JanNLJanNL Posts: 225member
    Appreciate your piece about CES. But when it's that bad, why is AI putting out so many articles about (great) products? ;)
    gatorguyk2kwBubbaTwocornchipmuthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobraairnerdbaconstang
  • Reply 5 of 58
    What’s CES?
    magman1979lollivercornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 58
    sirlance99sirlance99 Posts: 1,077member
    What’s CES?
    Who are you?
    jbdragongatorguypeterhartasdasd
  • Reply 7 of 58
    JanNLJanNL Posts: 225member
    What’s CES?
    Who are you?
    Why are you asking?
    StrangeDayswatto_cobrabrakken
  • Reply 8 of 58
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,387member
    JanNL said:
    Appreciate your piece about CES. But when it's that bad, why is AI putting out so many articles about (great) products? ;)
    Because this author is referring to the journalists hired by the Associated Press, Bloomberg, CNET and Reuters as "amateur bloggers". No idea who wrote this article (it doesn't say), but my guess it's not done by a journalist.
    VRingBubbaTwomuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 9 of 58
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 2,102member
    It may well be worthless as an event in itself but as part of the never ending marketing circus that many consumer tech companies live by, it is a very important spoke on the marketing wheel.

    I didn't get an Nvidia Shield TV this Christmas as CES was literally just around the corner. I decided to wait and see if a Shield 2018 was on the cards.

    The fact that so many sites pick up on it, adds to its marketing value even if we perceive the show itself as unnecessary. Some day it will fade away but as long as we are talking about it and sites are filtering its content to present highlights to its readers, it is achieving its goal. Apart from bringing cash into Las Vegas, of course.

    cornchipmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 10 of 58
    VRingVRing Posts: 108member
    JanNL said:
    Appreciate your piece about CES. But when it's that bad, why is AI putting out so many articles about (great) products? ;)
    Because this author is referring to the journalists hired by the Associated Press, Bloomberg, CNET and Reuters as "amateur bloggers". No idea who wrote this article (it doesn't say), but my guess it's not done by a journalist.

    fastasleepcornchipredgeminipa
  • Reply 11 of 58
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 2,529administrator
    JanNL said:
    Appreciate your piece about CES. But when it's that bad, why is AI putting out so many articles about (great) products? ;)
    CES is... funny. We are about eyes-deep in press releases full of superlatives about mostly unreleased products. The first filter we put on is AI-reader relevance. The next is a "likely to ship" filter. We then write about what interests us, removing almost all of the "best-in-class"-like modifiers that get applied by the mavens that send it to us.

    Over the last six years of CES extravaganzas I've covered from this very chair, I'd put good money on 50% of the PR I've seen for CES products haven't ever made it to market.

    There's no reason why this couldn't be spread across the year, instead of in a show that is mostly a vestige of a day gone by.
    edited January 9 fastasleeplolliverradarthekatjony0cornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 58
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,461member
    JanNL said:
    Appreciate your piece about CES. But when it's that bad, why is AI putting out so many articles about (great) products? ;)
    Because this author is referring to the journalists hired by the Associated Press, Bloomberg, CNET and Reuters as "amateur bloggers". No idea who wrote this article (it doesn't say), but my guess it's not done by a journalist.
     I believe the original article has now been edited to remove that particular haughty and IMO unprofessional reference. 

    EDIT: Oh geez, no it's still there. My mistake 
    edited January 9 BubbaTwoGG1philboogiemuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 13 of 58
    VRingVRing Posts: 108member
    JanNL said:
    Appreciate your piece about CES. But when it's that bad, why is AI putting out so many articles about (great) products? ;)
    CES is... funny. We are about eyes-deep in press releases full of superlatives about mostly unreleased products. The first filter we put on is AI-reader relevance. The next is a "likely to ship" filter. We then write about what interests us, removing almost all of the "best-in-class"-like modifiers that get applied by the mavens that send it to us.

    Over the last six years of CES extravaganzas I've covered from this very chair, I'd put good money on 50% of the PR I've seen for CES products haven't ever made it to market.

    There's no reason why this couldn't be spread across the year, instead of in a show that is mostly a vestige of a day gone by.
    I agree, just focus on what's relevant. There are lots of interesting products buried in the various press releases.

    For example, this $399 Lenovo Thunderbolt 3 eGPU dock with a GTX 1050:


     It's a bit on the pricey side, but seems to be relatively discrete. Potentially a good option to use with a 13" MacBook Pro.
    philboogiefastasleep
  • Reply 14 of 58
    boltsfan17boltsfan17 Posts: 1,873member
    I'm always interested in CES. I like seeing the new AV receivers and other products coming out. This year I'm interested in the new Dolby Vision capable 4K blu ray players by Panasonic and Sony that were announced at CES.  
  • Reply 15 of 58
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 2,529administrator
    JanNL said:
    Appreciate your piece about CES. But when it's that bad, why is AI putting out so many articles about (great) products? ;)
    Because this author is referring to the journalists hired by the Associated Press, Bloomberg, CNET and Reuters as "amateur bloggers". No idea who wrote this article (it doesn't say), but my guess it's not done by a journalist.
    Dan Dilger wrote the piece. I've asked for bylines on pieces to be passed to the forums. At present, they are only on the homepage.
    edited January 9 randominternetpersonfastasleepStrangeDayslolliver
  • Reply 16 of 58
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,155member
    The week of the living dead. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 58
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 1,700member
    CES this year seems pretty weak from what I've seen so far. Most of this crap you'll never be able to buy. It is what it is.
    cornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 58
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 1,214member
    JanNL said:
    Appreciate your piece about CES. But when it's that bad, why is AI putting out so many articles about (great) products? ;)
    Because this author is referring to the journalists hired by the Associated Press, Bloomberg, CNET and Reuters as "amateur bloggers". No idea who wrote this article (it doesn't say), but my guess it's not done by a journalist.
    I had been expecting DED to do a piece about how everyone had been charging their phones wrong and that was why Apple had to throttle them, but all the Attention that Amazon Alexa and the google Assistant were getting at CES must have raised his ire.    I for one purchased two Sonos ONEs because the HomePod was a no-show last year and am very happy with them.

    Just based on the size of the Apple community the HomePod should be a resounding success and they will definitely sell more units than Sonos (it's really a little known niche brand where I live).   The author needs to go to CA and have a joint.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 19 of 58
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 2,529administrator
    VRing said:
    JanNL said:
    Appreciate your piece about CES. But when it's that bad, why is AI putting out so many articles about (great) products? ;)
    CES is... funny. We are about eyes-deep in press releases full of superlatives about mostly unreleased products. The first filter we put on is AI-reader relevance. The next is a "likely to ship" filter. We then write about what interests us, removing almost all of the "best-in-class"-like modifiers that get applied by the mavens that send it to us.

    Over the last six years of CES extravaganzas I've covered from this very chair, I'd put good money on 50% of the PR I've seen for CES products haven't ever made it to market.

    There's no reason why this couldn't be spread across the year, instead of in a show that is mostly a vestige of a day gone by.
    I agree, just focus on what's relevant. There are lots of interesting products buried in the various press releases.

    For example, this $399 Lenovo Thunderbolt 3 eGPU dock with a GTX 1050:


     It's a bit on the pricey side, but seems to be relatively discrete. Potentially a good option to use with a 13" MacBook Pro.
    As an example of the thought process:

    1) Nvidia drivers need pretty significant hacks for eGPUs in macOS right now.
    2) Lenovo's macOS compatibility over history isn't great.

    Based on 1 and 2 above, it fails the relevancy test -- for now.

    3) We've asked some pointed questions. When we get them answered, we'll write about it. It's been on our queue.
    VRingfastasleeplolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 58
    “That's why big-headline companies hiring low-paid writers see CES as a goldmine of clickbait--perpetuating its existence and inducing the press to flock to a city replete with little more than flashing lights and concealed guns, despite the fact that more than 540 people were recently shot there by rich white man bored with life.”

    I’ve read quite a few thoughtful and interesting editorials on this board for many years... and this is NOT one of them.

    This article just seemed self-indulgent, hateful and pointless.

    ...and what the fck is with the attack on flashing lights and gun rights?!  For fcks sake. 

    VRinggatorguyGG1larryarandominternetpersonsingularitycornchipmuthuk_vanalingamtokyojimuairnerd
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