Mobile Talk: CES 2013 and how the expo merry-go-round is winding down
As the sun sets on CES 2013 Paul Briden muses on the state of the big trade expos
CES 2013 is almost over and the torrent of tech news, specs and details is now dwindling into a mere trickle. While the show certainly still has relevance in the wider tech journalism world it’s become questionable as a fixture for mobile pundits.
But we’ve been here before. Apple no longer attends, Microsoft officially pulled out after last year and although Samsung has still been in attendance on both occasions its mobile presence barely registers a pulse.
LG didn't bother to talk about its mobile products and HTC wasn't around either.
The show has become the stalking ground for the less prominent manufacturers elbowing for what’s left behind by the big players and that’s a sure strategy for staying in the middle of the heap.
For the most part, there’s nothing wrong with the calibre of devices on display at the show, but it’s the timing that’s so critical in determining what feels relevant and what doesn’t.
Many of the handsets are excellent in terms of spec right now and in the context of last year's hardware, but the grim truth of the matter is that they’re about to be usurped by much fancier stuff at Mobile World Congress in around a month’s time.
But even there, the most crucial players with the most re-defining devices aren’t going to be showcasing the kit we’ll all be talking about going into 2014 – you know, the Samsung Galaxy S4’s and Apple iPhone 5’s.
Apple hosts its events separately, Samsung hosts its event separately, as does Microsoft and Nokia and all do a much better job of generating interest, hype and eventual sales around their devices than anything we’ve seen at CES or will see at MWC.
Sony is getting there with the new Xperia Z in terms of leaking enough to create hype but keeping enough back to nurture it properly. I’m fairly sure we’ll start to see Sony move away from big expos this year and follow its peers into the practice of arranging its own independent events.
The thing is, while it’s pretty amazing what the aforementioned big leader companies have done when it comes to scheduling, leaks and gradually building enthusiasm for a product ahead of launch , the only thing that makes it special is that not everyone is doing it.
I believe this independent, hype-centric approach is a significant factor in marketing terms and contributes just as much to post-launch sales as active advertising does.
The proof is in the pudding - the biggest names in mobile tech are the ones which already employ this strategy.
Nothing kills enthusiasm quite like oversaturation and that’s just what these shows create.
By picking the time and place and ensuring they’re the only creator launching a product, phone makers will see a much better reaction from consumers.
It's time to put your money where your mouths are guys.