Breaking Analysis: CES 2013 in Review – Is Consumer Tech on the Wane?

CES 2013 is wrapping up today and there have been several articles written about whether or not this is still the most relevant technology tradeshow to attend. SiliconANGLE Founding Editor Mark “Rizzn” Hopkins has been in virtual attendance of the show by tracking it through several live feeds. Matt Buchanan of BuzzFeed claims the show is diminishing due to two trends, the first being that software and services have taken over consumer technology, and second that the social web has replaced the tradeshow as a channel for showcasing and distributing new products.  SiliconANGLE Founder John Furrier responded with a sarcastic post on Tuesday about how nobody goes to CES anymore because it’s too crowded, while this year’s attendance is expected to be the biggest in its history.

 

Is CES Still Relevant?

 

Even with Buchanan and many other bloggers around the web saying how CES is past its prime and really downplaying the show, Hopkins said he hears these types of sentiment every year about tech shows like CES and SXSW.  He said, “Somebody always says that nothing new happened relevant to technology, but at the same time, I’m putting out forty plus interviews with technology start-ups centering on ground-breaking news and
trend setters in the industry.”

Hopkins regarded Furrier’s post as being spot on. He said, “I think John nailed it. He asked a bunch of questions that were really meant to make people think. Is consumer tech on the wane right now, in terms of how hot it is with investors? Absolutely.”  He elaborated that consumer tech is definitely NOT the hottest area for investing right now, whether it be on the web side of things or the gadget side of things.  On the other hand, has consumer tech in consumption gone down one iota?  According to Hopkins, the answer is no, at least not measurably.  He emphasized the consumer increase in device usage, in smartphone adoption, in tablet adoption.  He summarized, “In terms of revelance, you can’t deny that CES is still relevant.”

 

Microsoft is very much alive and kicking

 

In Tuesday’s NewsDesk segment with SiliconANGLE Contributing Editor John Casaretto, we discussed Steve Ballmer’s surprise appearance during Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs’ keynote address. It was also mentioned that Microsoft made the decision this year not to take part in CES after 12 years of leading the opening night keynote. We asked Casaretto if he saw Microsoft’s decision not to take part in CES this year as a sign that the event may be losing some of its mojo, to which he responded, “I think it’s quite the opposite . . . there’s a number of ways partners are bringing the Microsoft brand into that experience.”

Hopkins said he could not disagree with Casaretto. While Hopkins feels that the instinct for many tech journalists is to knock down Microsoft at any turn, he said this time, they [Microsoft] made it really hard to do at this CES show. He attributed that to their amazing marketing push leading up to CES. He acknowledged that the Surface tablets had a lukewarm debut, but the Surface Pros are coming out to some pretty exceptional reviews, and their hybrid devices that have been trickling out at other tradeshows over the year came out in full force at CES and have done nothing but wow people. He reiterated, “Microsoft has come out of the gates swinging and has made a strong showing despite not having been a keynote partner.”

 

Why Apple doesn’t need to be at CES

 

Apple was another company that did not participate in CES this year. When asked if he thought their presence was as strong as Microsoft’s even without being an exhibitor, Hopkins responded, “Tech journalists regard Apple like they regard the force in Star Wars – it’s all around us, it’s everywhere.” Hopkins expanded on this by saying that Apple doesn’t need CES to be popular because they’re not catering to the geek crowd.

 

Convertible devices are coming our way

 

Hopkins observed that the trend he saw the most at CES 2013 was the new hybrid laptops that convert into tablets and back to laptops.  He picked the HP hybrid that debuted at HP’s Discovery Conference in Frankfurt last month as best of breed.  He described it as being the most “Apple-like” in design quality with its light-weight sleekness.  Watch the entire segment with Kristin Feledy and Mark “Rizzn” Hopkins on the Morning NewsDesk Show.