And Now For The Real CES, Macworld

Live from Macworld: My colleagues at Business 2.0 magazine are doing a great job of reporting from there, so I decided to give it a pass. I still am getting the urge to splurge.

The recently concluded biggest trade show was such a massive disappointment in giving us a direction of what gadgets could come next. Why? For starters, Four out of five keynotes at the CES 2006 were folks who make no consumer electronics devices.

  • Most of the announcements were under whelming: Yahoo Go Mobile works on mere nine handsets, two of them not available in the US.
  • Google Video, took four days after the keynote to come to life, and at first blush is pretty, what’s the word I am looking for, medicore.
  • Microsoft Vista, MTV Urge? AWOL as of now.

So no, the world didn’t change at the CES. I can hardly blame Microsoft, Yahoo and Google to not paint their own picture of the future. But I do worry that the organizers have forgotten the lessons of another trade show, most of us OGs remember: COMDEX. It went too horizontal, got all these fancy Internet companies to show-up, and lost its core audience, and soon went bust. How many tiny device makers who spent thousands of dollars, got absolutely no attention at CES 2006; are going to show up the next time around.

Is it me, or did anyone else notice that the show put confusion and convergence before consumer convenience, the very reason gizmos sell? So when Niall asked me, what should we talk about this week for our podsession, I suggested, lets discuss the CES, and the whole concept of Geeking Out The Living Room. Here are four things, which I think were important enough to ponder when thinking about CES 2006.

  1. The lack of networking standards and ease with which data can be shunted inside of the living room, will be the big obstacle that needs to be overcome before living room can be truly geeked out.
  2. Why set-top box is the method of mass deployment when it comes to cool technologies.
  3. The content announcements from CBS are just a way to appease Wall Street and showing investors that they are trying to do something to capture the “Internet” opportunity.
  4. Silicon Valley’s dismal record of producing CE devices. Despite the perceived success of TiVo, the only successful mass market CE device from Silicon Valley in recent years has been iPod.

I personally believe, that the real CES starts with Steve Jobs’ keynote at the Macworld on January 10. Macworld started today and run through January 13th. Check out this week’s podsession on which is about 20 minutes and 53 seconds long, and is a 9.6 MB download.

I think a lot of people forget why Jobs does what he does best: he focuses on making it easy for the consumer to use this inherently complex technology. He gives it to them in bits and pieces, and not as a big buffet. I am not sure what’s cooking inside of Apple as of now, but I do know one thing – it will be something many will be able to use. It will not be cheap, but then comfortable life, never is. As I said, now waiting for the real CES!

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