A friend of mine asked in passing the other day whether or not I would be at this year’s CES. “NO.” I said firmly, and laughed. The idea of going to CES, either for personal or professional reasons, struck me as hilarious. Later, I started to wonder why I found the idea so funny, and why I reacted so strongly. After all, a lot of bloggers and podcasters, as well as Mac fans who no longer need choose between Macworld Expo and the Vegas electronics show, are headed there this year. And I am, after all, spending a couple of days at Macworld. so what gives, and why the attitude?
The most straightforward explanation is that CES, with its emphasis on big ticket home theater, DVD formats, iPod accessories and gamng stuff just doesn’t match up with what I cover or what I care about. Will I find a few podcasting gear items in among the flat screens the blu rays? Maybe. Honestly, I’m not sure. Haven’t checked. As I told my friend, my gut feeling is that if I want new podcasting gear, I should be at the NAMM show, as well as Macworld, where there will be a small section of the trade show floor devoted to audio production, and where Apple’s emphasis on vertical markets makes a look at how podcasting is perceived at that show worth my time. It should be noted, as I have on my podcast, that Macworld Expo has, to this point provided an abysmally small amount of podcast training within its conference. That’s picking up a bit this year, and the organizers of the show have outsourced on on-floor podcast program, with some of the medium’s “usual suspects” in attendance to draw the crowds.
But CES? The show’s organizers cater to bloggers who cover the industry, and various events and venues are organized to court them as well. But I don’t cover the consumer electronics industry, and I don’t much want to. I suspect that a lot of blogger who feel at home at CES just want to play in Vegas and gaze at enormous TVs. And finally, down deep in my dismissive attitude toward the year’s first party for tech bloggers (who happen to coincide with the blogging “A-list” to an alarming degree) is this simple fact. I don’t really give two craps about most of the products and companies at CES. It’s a festival of products that are funded completely by discretionary income. Conspicuous consumption may be a boon for the economy, but watching my colleagues salivate over this stuff alternately fills me with boredom and contempt. For all its culttasticness, Macworld Expo features three things I like: Macintosh computers, friends from my days as a magazine editor, and San Francisco. CES can’t compete.