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1/3/2013
01:58 PM
Eric  Lundquist
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10 Epic CES Fails

Consumer Electronics Shows have launched great technologies like VCRs and HDTVs, but many product reveals turn out to be duds. Here are some of the worst.

What was the biggest fail in the history of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES)? The Microsoft watch? Larry Page's call for universal power adapters? The netbook? Tough to say. While CES may be a launching pad for great new products (VCRs, Pong at home, HDTV), it is also the place for one-trick, hype-filled wonders that fade away before the last weary CES showgoer has departed from Las Vegas' McCarran airport. Here are 10 that fit that latter description.

1. Microsoft Watch: I list this one first, because I interviewed Bill Gates when he was wearing one and even he seemed a bit embarrassed by the clunkiness. The year was 2003 and in Gates' CES keynote, the SPOT (Smart Personal Objects Technology) watch was the star. FM barrier bands, geolocation and changing your TV's channel were going to be available from your wrist. Gates missed the point of watches: They are fashion statements, and wearing a brick on your wrist is a statement few want to make. By the way, the Dick Tracy watch idea is returning again.

2. Netbooks: It was 2009. Netbooks were everywhere. They're cheap! They're so tiny you can't type! They're slower than any laptop yet invented! Why didn't everyone want one? The iPad chewed up and spit out the netbook business. Netbooks were a terrible idea, and the last netbook stalwarts are finally bailing out.

[ Even with its consumer focus, CES 2013 offers plenty to spark IT leaders' thoughts. See 10 CES Trends That Matter To Business. ]

3. 3-D TV: Maybe someday all us sports fans will be gathered around a 3-D TV to watch the Super Bowl. Not yet and maybe not ever. The 3-D TV was the big news at CES 2010, 2011 and 2012. Time to put 3-D to rest and let us HDTV watchers drink beer and eat pizza while watching the Patriots win the Super Bowl this year.

4. Universal Power Supply: I bring this up because Google's Larry Page making a speech at CES is a rare event, probably never to be repeated. I was sitting in the CES 2006 audience as his (up to that point) interesting speech about robot cars veered seriously off the cliff. He didn't like all the various power supplies in use then (and still in use now). Okay, I agree all those power supply incompatibilities are a pain, but should they be the subject of a keynote from one of the great tech movers and shakers? Off message and off the cliff. Don't just believe me: read the transcript.

5. End Of That "Other Show" During CES: After looking at the 125th smartphone, CES attendees in years past might have been tempted to head over to the Hard Rock for an education-only tour of the Adult Entertainment Expo. Alas, no more. AEP and CES are no longer in congruence, and your only choice will be to look at yet one more smartphone.

6. Media2Go: This was highlighted in the same 2003 keynote when Bill Gates showed the Microsoft watch. If the watch was a brick, Microsoft's Media2Go was a concrete block, and about that attractive and portable.

7. HP Home Server: This one is still around, sort of a zombie server. The idea was, you were going to have a server next to your furnace to run all your media. In these days of Netflix, Dropbox, iTunes and Amazon, the idea that you were going to keep your media in the home instead of the cloud seems absurd. But in Vegas, the absurd can seem quite logical after a couple discount drinks at happy hour.

8. Palm and WebOS: At CES 2009, Palm was going to change computing as we know it, etc., etc. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

9. 100 Tablets Introduced At CES 2009: The odds were 100 to 1 against Apple. Guess who won? In all fairness, the Android team is still in the race.

10. Lots Of Stuff At 2010 CES: My old cohort Jim Louderback can be counted on to scout up the goofiest, dumbest CES products. I think his high point of the dumb hunt was in 2010. Here's video -- check out the nano-toilet, TV hat and USB cigarette.

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ANON1246716909709
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ANON1246716909709,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/18/2013 | 6:04:50 PM
re: 10 Epic CES Fails
At the risk of sounding pedantic, your use of "dumbsizing" doesn't appear to be consistent with the Oxford dictionary definition - http://oxforddictionaries.com/.... Your usage IS consistent with the slang definition found in the Urban dictionary - http://www.urbandictionary.com.... However, that would conflict your assertion that "...slang is the last refuge of the inarticulate!", unless your intent was to appear inarticulate, which seems unlikely. The use of "inarticulate" (an adjective) as the object of the preposition "to" would also be rejected by some language purists. Finally, you may be "oversensitive", or "overly sensitive" about corruption of the English language, but according to Oxford, you can't be "over-sensitive". I, too, worked hard to learn English grammar as part of my public education (and continue to struggle with innappropriate hyphenation.) I understood the meaning behind his use of the word "fails", but didn't sense any intent on his part to "...decry the decline in public education standards." If that was his goal, then the article WAS an epic fail.
SFBill
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SFBill,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/18/2013 | 4:15:04 PM
re: 10 Epic CES Fails
There weren't 100 tablets at CES 2009, or 2010... Apple didn't launch iPad until April 2010 and there were only two companies showing Android "tablets" at CES in 2009. Google decided to focus on penetrating the smartphone business before turning attention to tablets, so even those were products of open-source Android. In 2011, there were 100 tablets - follow your link...

But you are right, Apple made the tablet market, and they are the tablet market for the most part (right now), but the open strategy is a longer-term bet, so don't be shocked to see the (Android-based) Kindle Fires of the world dominate within 5 years.
Andrew Hornback
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Andrew Hornback,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/7/2013 | 3:01:25 AM
re: 10 Epic CES Fails
You mention the Microsoft Watch (which I'd personally never heard of, and for probably a very good reason)... but have you ever seen the Casio watch that interfaced with a PC running Outlook and transferred data via a series of screen flashes? Friend of mine had one in the mid-90s and it was actually pretty trick - but all of that functionality (and the need for it) is gone with everyone carrying a smartphone now.

Andrew Hornback
InformationWeek Contributor
Andrew Hornback
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Andrew Hornback,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/7/2013 | 2:58:37 AM
re: 10 Epic CES Fails
As a former webOS device owner - the OS was great, the accompanying hardware was subpar and simply couldn't handle daily use... then there was the fact that things were promised when webOS was delivered that never got to see the light of day followed by HP's total about face on the whole thing after sinking money into the purchase of Palm.
Andrew Hornback
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Andrew Hornback,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/7/2013 | 2:56:22 AM
re: 10 Epic CES Fails
iPhone vs Android and iPad vs. Android proves that Microsoft's lost the phone and tablet markets...
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
1/5/2013 | 2:30:30 PM
re: 10 Epic CES Fails
Wrong is that WebOS is a failure. Yes, it is in the digital dustbin now, but the reason for that is total ineptitude of HP's management and not that WebOS is a bad product. In fact, it is probably the most intuitive and easiest to use mobile OS currently available.
Wolfgang
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Wolfgang,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/5/2013 | 12:52:18 AM
re: 10 Epic CES Fails
Thanks for getting back to me. I agree that language needs to evolve. That's why all languages have gotten "bigger" over time. However, there's a difference between introducing new words to reflect new realities and perverting existing words to follow the latest slang. Let's remember that slang is the last refuge of the inarticulate! The purpose of language is to communicate. If I introduce a new word that makes my meaning clearer, I have contributed to the evolution of the language. I understand that acronyms like LOL have become acceptable because modern devices like smartphones make it impossible to type, so we abbreviate where we can. Fair enough.

What I don't understand is why journalists feel the need to stoop to the lowest common denominator when it comes to language and yet decry the decline in public education standards. Proper writing, even in such a prosaic field as IT, can elevate the level of discourse and bring a certain "je ne sais quoi" to the proceedings, which is why I sent a note in the first place. Eric Lundquist is an insightful commentator and that it is why I had to vent my spleen about the ongoing mangling of the English language. By the way, English is not my first language, so perhaps I'm over-sensitive about the corruption of something I worked pretty hard to learn.
Tom LaSusa
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Tom LaSusa,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/4/2013 | 9:09:48 PM
re: 10 Epic CES Fails
Wolfgang,

Thanks for your thoughts. Personally I've always been of the mind that language -- and words -- should be constantly evolving. Granted, there's some words that should fade into blissful obscurity ("YOLO" anyone?), but referring to something as a 'fail' has been readily accepted by many as a popular slang term.

After all if languages didn't evolve we probably wouldn't be having this conversation LOL! (And yes, I used the LOL on purpose) ;-)

Cheers,
Tom LaSusa
InformationWeek Community Manager
EricLundquist
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EricLundquist,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/4/2013 | 7:39:50 PM
re: 10 Epic CES Fails
http://oxforddictionaries.com/...
verb or noun depending on usage. Sorry Wolfgang, you made a fail on this comment
Wolfgang
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Wolfgang,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/4/2013 | 7:29:26 PM
re: 10 Epic CES Fails
Could you please stop butchering the English language? Fails is a verb, not a noun. Are you too lazy to type the extra few letters to spell "failures"? Journalists (and I use the term reluctantly) in the IT sector are guilty of dumbsizing the language in the mindless pursuit of "coolness" by copying each other's latest syntactical and grammatical perversions. Since when is "spend" a noun? When did budget, investment, or expenditure become inadequate?

From the time that some stoned idiot yelled "let's party!" journalists have played fast and loose with the rules of proper communication and turned nouns into verbs. I know that I speak for only a miniscule portion of your readership but, to me, sloppy writing is a sign of sloppy thinking; therefore, I almost automatically avoid any article written by someone who adopts the linguistic level of a reality TV show.
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