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Back to basics at CES 2009?

Hundreds of vendor press releases are already rolling out as the 2009 International CES show opens this Thursday. Excitement continues to build around concept designs and upcoming products. It becomes easy to think of CES as an overwhelming trade show floor with miles of products, which it is on the surface.

Actually, it is the key industry event for Consumer Electronics in the U.S., including consumer PCs and devices. Distributors, VARs, system builders, resellers, retailers, and partners will be evaluating what trends they can count on to sell to their clients for the next year. Press will be scouring for products that their readers will want to dream about, and hopefully buy soon. Fundamentals will be evaluated: Will customers like it? Will customers value it enough to buy it? Is it affordable? Can it be profitable?

Exhibitors will be watching for what products catch people’s attention and what products are criticized despite their sales pitch. Hopefully, they’ll be measuring ROI in addition to traffic. Interest does not always equal sales viability. Activity around a campaign stunt does not equal sales potential either.

Though I’ll be tempted compare some booths to the last recession Comdex bomb shelter style exhibits, I expect this year to be less hype and more focused than recent years. I’ll also be looking for answers to questions, such as:

  • Will vendors show their 12-month roadmap, or will they only offer insight into the next quarter or two?
  • Are PC and device vendors going to innovate and take risks or hold in 2009?
  • How much diversity exists across manufacturers or are they all offering the same thing?
  • Are marketing pitches over reaching or can they really deliver?
  • Are vendors ecosystem building or shutting themselves off?
  • What needs do attendees express?

Ultimately, CES is a great networking event with opportunity abound for forming new partnerships, ways to share and communicate critical information to help companies through economic downturn. I hope to see considerable interaction between companies vs retreating. I hope to see openness about product plans and consideration for feedback.

Of course, I’ll also be looking at what chipsets and microprocessors are selected, what products have great consumer design, what products exhibit great use of natural interaction – like Tablet & Touch Technology. Afterall, it is CES 🙂

What trends will you be looking for?

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