You, Mr. Enterprise-Minded Reader, may ask yourself why on Earth the Consumer Electronics Show is relevant to yourself, as you ponder purchasing a million Dell laptops and RIM BlackBerry's for your mobile workers. Put your fears aside, because, in all honesty, it wasn't. But, that's not going to stop me from telling you why...So in case you weren't aware of it, the largest trade show in North America took place last week in Las Vegas. Attracting some 2700 exhibitors, 140,000 attendees and 2700 (eerie how variations of this number keep reappearing) journalists from around the world, the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show roared to life in the glitzy City of Sin, and was somehow completely boring.
From an enterprise perspective, anyway.
Sure, sure, there were tons of new gizmos and gadgets galore that will assuredly line the shelves of Best Buy, Circuit City and Wal-mart later this year. As my in-box will attest, there were scads of new product releases and announcements showing off the latest and greatest in doodads and widgets. And there's no doubt that American consumers will happily lap them up as we most often do. Yes, Verizon Wireless launched it's V CAST TV service, sort of. And Sprint decided who its WiMAX partners will be. And Sharp wowed everyone with the world's largest 1080p HDTV LCD, at 108 inches (big drool factor on that one). Of all the hoopla, however, one small product announcement from MacWorld trumped the entire CES event.
Yes, folks, I am talking about Apple's fantabulous, nifty little device called the iPhone. If you're sick of hearing about it already, too bad. There is a lot to say, and will continue to be a lot to say, both good and bad, about Stevie J's attempt at revolutionizing the cell phone industry. You see, after 10 AM last Tuesday, the entire tech press stopped talking about the thousands upon thousands of products staring them in the face in Las Vegas and began talking about one device that was introduced hundreds of miles away in San Francisco. You'd think that after perhaps a few hours the buzz would have died down, but it didn't. Talk, talk, talk about the iPhone is all we did for the rest of the week. "It sucks." "It rocks." "I hate it." "I love it." "Why Cingular?" "Why not 3G?" And on and on and on.
Whether or not there were any enterprise product announcements at CES doesn't matter, because no one heard them. Not a single one of the gazillion press releases I received last week spoke of a serious enterprise device or application that will revolutionize the field force or mobile enterprise as we know them. In stopping by their booth, I noticed that Panasonic continued to evolve their ToughBooks, but most of their presence at the show was to support their large plasma and LCD TVs. And if there was one trend at CES, that was it: big, honking TVs are here, and they kick your wimpy 32-inch TV's butt.
No new products from RIM and Palm managed to create some news for a few moments with the launch of its Windows Mobile-based Treo 750 on the Cingular network. But that's about it. No enterprise devices from HTC, UTStarcom, Nokia, Motorola, and the dozens of other manufacturers aiming at the corporate dollar.
In response to all this, I'd offer the CEA a tiny bit of advice. It may want to evaluate the timing of its flagship product in the future, and be sure that it doesn't compete with MacWorld, because, great products or not, nothing can compete with Steve Jobs for attention.