April 1, 2023

Tech Show Loses Clout as the Place for Product News

The International Consumer Electronics Show, which will open on Tuesday in Las Vegas, is impossible to ignore. It will smother the city’s gigantic convention center with gadgets and those who make and promote them; more than 140,000 people are expected to attend for a frenzy of old-fashioned social networking with other members of the tech set.

But once again, the show is unlikely to be where any blockbuster products of 2012 are introduced. Many of the hottest new gadgets in recent years — including Apple’s iPad and iPhone, Microsoft’s Kinect and Amazon’s Kindle Fire — were first announced at other events, even though C.E.S. remains the world’s biggest consumer technology convention.

This reflects the changing nature of the technology industry — particularly the fact that the most important developments in the electronics business are no longer coming from the makers of television sets and stereos that have been most closely identified with the show since it started in 1967.

And as the industry and its trade show have grown, the need for buzz and branding has become more acute. The most innovative players — like Apple and Amazon — need to stand out from the crowd and so have chosen to introduce their products at smaller, more narrowly defined conferences and company-only events.

In December, the significance of C.E.S. was further called into question when Microsoft said the 2012 show would be its last for exhibiting. Microsoft also said its chief executive, Steven A. Ballmer, after this year would no longer deliver the opening night keynote address for the event, which a Microsoft executive has done 14 times since 1995. And executives at the wireless carriers are not delivering keynote speeches on their own this year, which means they too are unlikely to make big announcements at the show.

“For the larger guys, the show has become less important,” said Phil McKinney, who retired recently as the chief technology officer for the computer division at Hewlett-Packard, which stopped having a booth at the show in 2009. “The challenge for C.E.S. is when you start losing more and more of these anchor-type brands, does it cause a tipping point?”

Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Electronics Association, the industry trade group that produces the show, said that he was sorry to see Microsoft’s departure, but that it would have little impact on the popularity of the show.

The group said it was expecting more than 2,700 exhibitors at this week’s event, compared with 2,800 the year before, although it does not have a final number yet because it is still selling space. Attendance for the show last year was more than 149,000, but it’s too soon to tell whether this year will exceed that figure. Some companies that have stopped exhibiting on the floor still hold private meetings at the event because so many people attend it.

In an interview, Mr. Shapiro said exhibitors come and go from the show all the time. He said C.E.S. has no rival in its ability to attract top-tier executives in the tech industry, media, retailers and others from the around the world. “C.E.S. is the dominant show in consumer technology by any measure,” he said.

Mr. Shapiro disputed the idea that companies no longer make major news at the show, though he said the technology industry is so much larger than it once was that it is now in a “continuous news cycle” throughout the year.

“We are very positive about C.E.S.,” said Hiral Gheewala, director of marketing at Intel, a big exhibitor at the show.

There was a time, though, when it seemed that every major gadget had its debut at C.E.S., including the videocassette recorder in 1970, the camcorder in 1981 and the Xbox from Microsoft in 2001. While the show’s sheer scale — its exhibit space is more than 1.7 million square feet — makes it a desirable place to network, it also means news can easily get muffled.

“It’s not the best place for product announcements,” said Sarah Rotman Epps, an analyst at Forrester Research. “You get lost in all the noise.”

Instead, companies like Apple and Amazon tend to hold their own product presentation where they can have a “captive audience all to themselves,” Ms. Rotman Epps said.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=590e731eade98d3f63b13390cfe1ea05

With New Smartphones, High Hopes for Nokia and Microsoft Union

Nokia’s chief executive, Stephen A. Elop, presented the Lumia 800, a 420 euro ($584) touch-screen device, and the Lumia 710, a 270 euro handset at a company product introduction. Both devices are being sold in six European countries and will be sold later this year in parts of Asia. Other smartphones are planned for the United States, but not until early next year.

Analysts said the Nokia smartphones, the result of an eight-month collaboration with Microsoft, could also help Microsoft extend its dominant computer software business into the cellphone and mobile device market. The software has received positive reviews, but few handset makers are using it.

The new lineup aims to revive Nokia’s tarnished reputation as an innovative force in mobile phones, an industry it pioneered and dominated until Apple and Google, helped by more user-friendly software, wrested control of the smartphone business four years ago.

“Nokia really needed this to happen today, and this is a new start for the company,” said Pete Cunningham, an analyst based in London with the research firm Canalys. “This helps stop the bleeding and will help Nokia get back in the game.”

Mr. Elop, a former senior Microsoft executive who made the decision to enter the software alliance with his former employer in February, said the new Lumia devices showed that Nokia, which is based in Espoo, Finland, was delivering on his promise of a turnaround. “This signals our intent to be today’s leader in smartphone design and craftsmanship,” Mr. Elop told 3,000 people attending the company’s Nokia World conference in London.

During an interview, Mr. Elop said Nokia was planning to push its smartphones into the United States, where it has struggled, early next year. He said Nokia was in advanced talks with the four major American operators, which together sell more than 90 percent of all cellphones in the country. Nokia’s new smartphones for the United States, Mr. Elop said, will run on high-speed 4G networks that use a technology called LTE, or Long Term Evolution, as well as on older 3G networks.

They will also be made to run on networks that use the C.D.M.A. standard, which is used by the market leader, Verizon Wireless.

Mr. Elop said that Nokia was listening closely to phone operators and would be flexible in meeting their demands. “If you do the math, you may come to the conclusion that clearly we are in good conversations with those operators,” he said

Microsoft, based in Redmond, Wash., is using its business connections — its server software powers a lot of cloud computing centers used by network operators — to help Nokia re-establish relationships with American operators, he said. “When we enter a market, it is not just dipping your toe in the market, but coming in with the appropriate levels of investment by us,” Mr. Elop said. “It takes work. It takes money. We are being very deliberate.”

With Lumia, Nokia aims to beat Apple and Google by designing handsets that are easier to use than the two best-selling smartphones, the Apple iPhone 4S and the Samsung Galaxy S II, which runs Google’s Android software. The Lumia 800’s start screen is a wheel of interactive tiles. By clicking a tile, users are taken directly to a preferred task, like text messaging a friend, tracking a sports team or listening to a favorite song, without having to enter and close applications.

The software interface, developed by Microsoft but refined by Nokia, is designed to remove as much laborious touch-screen tapping as possible. Marko Ahtisaari, Nokia’s head designer, said the smartphones used fluid, rather than linear, design logic, which eliminated many of the intermediary steps required with the array of static app icons that Apple and Google’s Android favor.

Shares of Nokia closed at 4.80 euros, down 0.6 percent, in European trading.

One investor said that Nokia and Microsoft must still overcome skepticism about the venture. “I have seen no evidence that Nokia and Microsoft are making a game of it — yet,” said Jeffrey P. Davis, the chief investment officer at Lee Munder Capital, an investment fund manager based in Boston with $5.4 billion under management. “Android is winning the mind space on the consumer front. The business world will probably follow.”

Neil Mawston, an analyst at Strategy Analytics, estimated that Nokia was paying $15 to Microsoft for each Windows smartphone it produced, less than the estimated $20 other handset makers must pay. The new Windows phone lineup, he said, has the potential to help restore Nokia’s fortunes in the smartphone market.

“One thing I have learned in this business is to never say never,” Mr. Mawston said.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=abd0cf0f716103a2dd23589f189b1feb