International CES 2013: Is the Show Even Relevant Anymore?

ByRahmin Bender

The 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the largest consumer show in the U.S., is in full swing in Las Vegas as the biggest names in consumer electronics are showing off their latest gizmos and gadgets. The show is displaying the latest innovations while fighting the tide of the software-driven consumer electronic economy. Companies take advantage of this time to show off their latest tech, or capitalize on buzz in the sector to show off new products. Facebook has taken advantage of this hype and issued a press release signaling an announcement on January 15. This has led to much speculation that Facebook could possibly be releasing some sort of hardware. This is just one of many announcements making an impact on the tech industry as the CES moves forward.

There has been speculation within the media and among industry insiders that the CES is quickly losing its place as the premier exhibit for cutting edge hardware innovations. This has been fueled by the changes in consumer behavior caused by rapid advancements in hardware that are able to handle nearly all consumer software. The consumer market has shifted further away from the days of adding RAM to your desktop and getting the fastest processor. Supply of quality, fast, effective hardware has far outpaced the need for the latest applications, operating systems, and latest software to make our lives a bit easier. This has taken away a bit of the pull that the CES once had in the industry.

Despite, the noticeable absence of Microsoft from this year’s show the top companies are represented and are displaying every variety of smart technology from TVs to cameras.

Mobile phones and tablets are, of course, the biggest draw, but laptops are changing the game as they introduce touch elements. Even though Microsoft chose not display any of its own hardware, such as the Surface tablet, Windows 8-compatible laptops are in-fact, a highlight of the event. There are plenty of interesting new laptops and many feature a touch screen in order to take full advantage of Windows 8.

One interesting announcement is Mozilla's proposed foray into mobile operating system to be launched on ZTE phones. The Firefox OS plans to be the freeware web-based alternative to the major competitors. This merely adds to the already rapidly changing smart phone marketplace. Android is king with iOS holding on to its devoted market share. It has been clear that Android has had the benefit of being available on a variety of devices and seen as worthy alternative to iOS. It will be interesting to see if Apple can keep its niche market as new OS are released and more and more manufactures move into the premium smartphone realm. Just this week rumors have surfaced that Apple is developing a low cost iPhone to be released later this year.

With technology blogs and websites often getting first glimpse at the latest tech through their expansive source network, the CES is becoming less relevant in the industry. Often, companies such as Apple and Facebook opt for high profile press conferences at their headquarters as opposed to convention announcements. Oftentimes companies either overtly or passively allow information leaks to bloggers in order to start buzz surrounding new products. This new landscape drastically changes traditional marketing and product releases. It will be interesting to see whether the CES will continue to have relevance in this ever changing field.