What it's like at CES

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18 Responses to “What it's like at CES”

  1. dculberson says:

    Remember COMDEX?  That’s the only big show like this I’ve been to.  Seems pretty similar, though I was there as part of a small computer chain checking out products to carry rather than reporting.

  2. Rasputin says:

    I could have written an identical article about E3 a few years ago. Honestly, it’s ALL about the parties and they really do go a long way towards getting the actual meat of your articles. I certainly never scheduled meetings the first day unless they were high-priority, like Nintendo or EA or Blizzard.

    And oh, the copious booze. Oh, Pepcom, I miss you. I miss the old E3. I hear it’s becoming closer to its old self now, but I’m not sure if my old bones could keep up the pace anymore.

    • Mr. Spocko says:

      One thing that interested me was how for all the talk about getting stories, pretty much everyone sticks to the script. During CES, Foxconn had a protest where 150 employees threatened to jump off the Foxconn building and kill themselves.  Foxconn makes many of the products at the Show. Now, at the show were lots of high level people who could have been asked about who makes their products and what they do to ensure decent worker conditions.

      Most of the press at the event didn’t really get into that issue until the Apple audit was released. Why? Because they didn’t really want to bring up this nasty issue unless there was “another side to the story” so that they wouldn’t have to write ‘political’ stories.  I understand. That’s the job of the “news media” yet the trade press is really very powerful when they address these issues, if for no other reason than they understand the context of the market. In my experience some of the better journalists were in the trade press, but they were waved off covering anything that might piss off the manufacturers.

      That could have been an interesting a story as the booth babe one, but not as fun to watch/make/write.

      • Rasputin says:

        Our specific bent at E3 was satire and swag. Not to say we didn’t get blown away by things we didn’t expect, but on the whole in gaming you know what you’re seeing and in general everyone’s already aware of how the sausage is made.

        I’ve personally blown a few doors off some strange ass stuff in MMOGs but overall there’s just not as much social torch-and-pitchforking around E3.

  3. IronEdithKidd says:

    Yeah, three days in Lost Wages is pretty much the limit for any given visit.

  4. Stefan Jones says:

    I used to be a booth drudge at CES & Comdex back when CD-ROM Multimedia was the hot new thing. The last Vegas show I did before going to grad school was in ’95.

    We had no choice but to stay the whole show, and then clean up the booth. It was fun watching the carefully constructed “landscape” of the booths fall apart within minutes of the doors closing.

    During the show, I did countless demos of the same lame-oh “edutainment” software to buyers, reps, and press people. The buyers were awful people to deal with. They really didn’t want to deal with the techie stuff or wonder of it all; all they wanted to know was margin.

    The worst: Users’ Group newsletter writers who got in on a press pass. They were determined to get review copies of everything.

    My employers had a “hospitality suite” back at the hotel where the deals got done. This was comparatively peaceful, but you didn’t get to see anything, of course.

    Most fun: In 1993, WIRED magazine showed up and set up shop a few booths down from us. They had just premiered the magazine at Mac World (?). They were setting up, in any booth that would have them, wire-rack stands to give away copies of WIRED issue 1. My booth-droogies and I were totally blown away by the zine. I took home a half-dozen or so copies. Still have a few.

  5. Suburbancowboy says:

    To fight the boredom, many people head over to the AVN convention across the street.

    Also, some very cool companies (many of them audio companies) showcase products in suites in other hotels, to save money. A few years back, I went to check out some speakers at these two story suites right near the convention center, and they had a chef serving up some delicious steaks, and we just chilled had a few beers and listened to the speakers.

  6. adam says:

    Truly captures the essence of CES, from a press perspective.  From an inside-the-industry perspective, there’s less free food and more walking.  My pedometer had me at about 7.5 miles/day walking.

  7. There’s more exhibit space at CES than at San Diego Comic Con AND if you’re already in Vegas why would you leave after 2 days of CES? There’s no way you can see everything in that time frame!

    (Well maybe if you do zero parties and get to the convention center when it opens but I still think that’s a stretch!)

    • Matt Popke says:

      The point is, you don’t actually want to see everything. Most of it is crap. You can see everything that’s cool in one day if you’re lucky, two if you’re not even trying that hard. Unless you’re referring to everything in Vegas (outside of the show floor). Then yeah, stay as long as you want.

      I would imagine that Comic Con is much more interesting to slowly trawl the booths than CES is (or ComDEX, which was in the same ballpark as CES). At CES it’s flat screen after flat screen after flat screen, punctuated occasionally by some poorly thought out cell phone or totally redundant audio device. It gets monotonous fast.

      The general strategy is to move as quickly as you can, really only scanning the booths until you find something worth lingering on. When you’ve gotten as much as you can from that thing, you go back into rapid scan mode until you find the next interesting thing. You can blow through the show floor pretty quickly. Some entire sections, comprised of dozens of vendors, aren’t even worth that much effort.

      The aforementioned South Hall is actually kind of depressing. It’s just a big room full of very tired asian men trying their damnedest to get someone (anyone) to buy a specific internal component from their firm even though theirs is identical to everyone else’s or convince a lower tier company to contract with their manufacturing plant. Most attendees aren’t even the target audience for them (it was exactly the same at ComDEX too, only they were trying to win offshore coding contracts or call center contracts). The South Hall kind of feels like the sweatshop of conferences.

  8. roguetrooper815 says:

    Reminds me of a scene in the original TRON movie.

    Dillinger flops in his office chair and mutters that “If you’ve seen one Consumer Electronics Show, you’ve seen them all.”

    And that was how long ago!?

  9. I_Did_Not says:

    Nice piece, Rob.  Any chance of future reports on, say, Davos or Bohemian Grove?

  10. johnklin says:

    CES was extremely productive for me. I had tons of business meetings with partners and potential partners. For first timers, CES can be overwhelming. Actually, having a car during CES is not that bad. You will pay for parking if you want to drive and park near the convention center. Getting around is not that bad actually if you take the monorail from the convention center to the strip. I had a blast this year – even got to see Matchbox 20 at the Qualcomm party and had friends from the Bay Area and met others from other parts of the country.

  11. Andreea says:

    Great insight: clear, informative and precise! Thank you. 

  12. billstreeter says:

    I attended in 2007, though I still don’t really know why. I had a wealthy friend who thought I should attend and offer to pay. Who am I to turn down a free trip to Vegas? I found it tedious, but oddly ended up running into several people I knew and had a fun time in spite of CES. But it pretty much cured me from ever wanting to go to CES ever again. I noticed that this year a big tech blog ran a contest to send a couple of readers to CES. Couldn’t help but wonder if this would be a punishment or reward. Seems to me that’s like running a contest to send someone to jury duty. Whoo-hoo!

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