By Bayle Emlein
The 2012 version of the annual expo of the Consumer Electronics Association, the Consumer Electronics Show is no longer the largest electronics trade show in the world, partially limited by adamant refusal to admit “the general public.” Attendees must demonstrate “industry affiliation.” That maintains focus and also cuts out enthusiasts who would be happy to spread the word–any word–about anything half-way new or better bling that adds no functionality but improves the subjective user experience.
The kind of “general public” who would make the effort to attend such an event is already cherry-picked from the general public who just wants to use a telephone to make a phone call. But adding them into the mix might provide developers with a bit of a reality check as to what is useful and usable and wanted in the real world (i.e., marketplace). As it was, it was very hard to sort out which items are already on the market, which are in the pipeline for pre-order, and which are a glimmer of an idea looking for an angel.
I did not see or hear any killer apps or devices being released at CES this year. But I did notice incremental changes. At least in the demographic that attends trade shows, smartphones and tablets are a given. It’s not a question of whether you have one, but which one(s) you have. And for the purposes of the trade show, how you bling it out. GPS is no longer news, so neither is finding yourself, your friends, or a restaurant. There are better devices and apps for doing so, or at least ones that claim to be an improvement. As long as your mind and your tastes match those of the developer, things are better than they were last year.