CES 2013: A branding perspective on technology’s biggest event.
January 17, 2013 at 6:54 pm
CES 2013 was big. But, was it amazing?
Prior to the event, many tech pundits were less than enthusiastic about CES 2013. Some of them thought the show was pretty much dead. One tech writer, Jason Perlow from ZDNet Tech Broiler went as far as saying “CES is a waste of anyone’s time who is going there”. Yet, we went. And we found that about 150,000 other people went as well. According to CEA (the organizers of the event), this year’s CES was the biggest in its 45+ year history with 1.92 million net square feet of exhibit space, and more than 3,250 exhibitors who unveiled some 20,000 new products! Whether or not the show featured amazing innovations, well – it remains to be seen. For us, it was a trek to see how brands chose to present themselves and their new products in front of so many people. As in years past, we found the show to be exhausting in every possible way – but this year, instead of leaving inspired and excited, we felt that CES was a bit of a disappointment.
The biggest stories may have happened off the show floor.
We usually start the show by walking the main halls. And this year was no exception. By our estimates, Samsung probably had the biggest presence at the show, followed by Sony. In fact, the Samsung booth was so big it spilled out of the main floor right onto the corridors connecting the various halls. And there were other large brands, such as Panasonic, Intel, Qualcomm, Nikon, etc. that had a good showing. Still, there were many important technology brands that were absent from the show floor, like AMD, Acer, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Motorola, Microsoft, Dolby, etc. Instead we saw quite a few Asian brands like Huawei, Hisense, and TCL among others position themselves as relevant players in the American market. Of course, some of the companies that were not present on the show floor were quietly showcasing their latest innovations behind closed doors in invitation-only suites at hotels away from the convention center. And we had a chance to visit a few of them, but unfortunately we could not take any photos.
A lot of stuff, but not a lot of innovation.
We do not dare compete with the many qualified tech journalists that cover CES, but from what we saw (and what we’ve read) the show did not deliver the “next big thing” – which is what one would hope when over 20,000 “innovative” products get introduced. On the other hand, from a branding and design perspective we were (as we have been in the past) overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of “stuff” – but this year we were clearly disappointed by the fact that nothing stood out as “amazing”. In years past, we walked away talking to each other about new technologies, techniques, materials and experiences that brands offered at every turn – competing with each other in an effort to attract and dazzle the attendees. We have often left CES inspired and impressed. This year, there was little of that. The show seemed to lack in enthusiasm, innovation or surprise. And left us feeling a little sad, and a bit disappointed.
Take a look at our report, and let us know what you think.
As we have done for several years now, we returned home and immediately went to work on our annual CES Branding Report. For those who do not know about it, it is a report meant to document what we saw at the show from a branding perspective. It is a collection of photographs and observations about what caught our attention while walking the crowded halls and visiting the many booths. We try to highlight what was inspiring, what was funny, and what was disappointing (and sometimes scary). We invite you to download it and let us know what you think. We welcome your feedback, and any photos or stories that might add some color to our coverage of CES 2013. And, if you are so inclined, we invite you to share the report with others that might find it useful (or at least enjoyable). We look forward to your comments.