Call it my Sophmore slump (this being the second year that I’ve attended CES), but I am not finding all that much to get excited about. And yet… International CES remains a place anyone seriously interested in marketing has to put in an appearance.
Sure, there are mind-blowing curved UltraHD Samsung TVs, an Audi self-driving car (they call it “pilotless”) that has a computer the size of an ipad powering it. Sure, will.i.am was appointed creative director of 3D Systems — a 3D printing company for whom they promise to introduce printing of recycled waste product. But all the 3D companies that have sprouted up in the last year, including MakerBot, seem to be pretty much the same. I know this was supposed to be the year of the wearable device, and the internet of things, but all the wearable wrist bands and monitors seem pretty much the same and the internet of things — well no one really knows what to do with all that data. And yet….
CES is proof that although one can see new products online, although Twitter can tell you all the news from CES, although CES is crowded with an attendance estimated at 150,000, social connections are strengthened by personal connections. Seeing the product in person, having the meeting, hanging out still trumps online. Afterwards you can take all the business cards you collected and expand your social network — but the value of that connection, the strength of that connection is enhanced because you made the effort to show up. And as Woody Allen famously said, “90% of life is showing up.”
So what were a few of my favorite things from today at CES?
I was impressed by Irig’s microphones that can transform your phone or tablet into a recording studio. Yesterday I saw the Grillbot, today I saw the Windowbot — that’s right — a roomba-like device that cleans windows. I was impressed by this Swedish Design Team called Teenage Engineering, who have a speaker and a DJ mixing system. Recover — Iphone cases made out of wood from a Portland company. But enough about me: what about social? Well, Polaroid is back and are introducing a new camera called a “Socialmatic” that has wifi but also prints instantly.
Here’s a final thought I want to leave you with: I also attended a panel “Reinventing the Commerce Media Model,” where my friend Ken Hertz of Membrain LLC, was speaking, at which the panelist said that the problem with big data is that no one has figured out how to use that information to actually close sales — the ROI is just not there. Proof, someone said, that “Just because you build it, they will not come; and just because you have scale, does not mean it will be profitable.”
Tom Teicholz is an award winning journalist and producer who has created print, video and social media content for Intel, The Museum of Tolerance and The Milken Family Foundation; and whose work has appeared on The Huffington Post, Newsweek.com, The NY Times Magazine, and The LA Times Op-Ed page. He also has ghostwritten, edited and published essays, treatises and books for private clients.