The Consumer Matters is the blog of Leslie Grandy, aka Gearhead Gal.  My passion is creating and delivering compelling products that delight customers through simple and elegant user experience design.

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Entries in CES (8)


The Gadget Lovers' Answer to Burning Man - CES 2013 Preview

Your holiday gift list may be filled with gadgets, but right after you've opened all your presents the friendly people who made them will tell you that your newest tech toys are very shortly going to be too big, too slow or just too limited in their capabilities.

Each year in early January, consumer electronics manufacturers, automotive companies, and entertainment industry deal makers converge on Las Vegas by the hundreds of thousands for the annual gadget-lovers' answer to Burning Man, the Consumer Electronics Show. 

Click here to find out what the Consumer Electronics Association previewed to press and analysts before the next edition of this (in)famous industry trade show.


CES 2011 Video Moments

I hope you enjoy these two video montages of the sites and sounds of CES. It's a visual and auditory mashup, but so is walking around the show floor.

And, just in case you think it's all glam and glitter at CES, please see my post on Technorati, Ten Things I Hate About CES.


Can America Become The Comeback Kid?

If you ask the CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association what America needs to do to become as great as it used to be, he'll tell you the answer lies in two words - support innovation.

Gary ShapiroGary Shapiro, head of the organization that annually mounts the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, believes America's position as a global superpower has been diminished by the federal government's immigration, education, broadband and tax policies which have dimmed our entrepreneurial spirit.

Shapiro feels so passionate that the country needed a strategic turnaround plan, he says he almost named his new book simply "The Plan." In an interview on the verge of opening the 2011 trade show to tout his short treatise "The Comeback, How Innovation Will Restore The American Dream," Shapiro said, "I created a SWOT analysis for the country, and evaluated our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats."

The CEO of the CEA was steadfast in his interest in speaking about long range vision, and was committed to the perspective that his job is to focus on federal policy. Downplaying the impact of the state government's role in fostering innovation, maintaining employment levels or managing immigration at our borders, Shapiro suggested that the economic situation California has gotten itself into is a local business issue that gets sorted out through competition among states for jobs and business. "Other states win when California makes bad decisions," Shapiro remarked. Despite insistence that innovation starts with federal policy, in his book, Shapiro compares the financial woes of California to the economic implosion of Greece.

Read more:


Twitter CEO Dick Costolo On His "Technical Debt"

In this interview at the mini All Things Digital conference at CES, the Twitter CEO euphemistcally describes the "fail whale" and his plan to have us see it less.


CES - Mark This Spot as Dead 

One of the main complaints at CES this year was the incredibly horrible performance of the AT&T network. Given the massive adoption of the iPhone, and the fact that technology trade shows tend to generate mobile data traffic, the demands for bandwidth should have been predictable , if not addressed by AT&T in advance.  Because they were not, the company took a big hit in the battle of map coverage with Verizon.

My experience, personally, was not around dropped calls but the ability to even connect a call under what appeared to be full bar coverage. My device would show access to wifi and the AT&T 3G network, but then when the call was placed, it would fail to connect.  Worse, text messages were timing out before they could leave the device, making communication nearly impossible for most of the show if you were using an AT&T 3G device.

AT&T has an app on the App Store called “Mark the Spot” to enable customers to provide feedback to the company about where they experience network problems. The app provides options for reporting issues - Dropped Call, Failed Call, No Coverage, Data Failure and Poor Voice Quality – but what happens when the device doesn’t enable connectivity at all to send a report, and you want to communicate you can’t call and you can’t text? As connectivity became a more valuable commodity than the H1N1 vaccine, it became more important to find a way to communicate than to see if the AT&T app would register the complaint about the data or voice failure using the same network that wouldn’t allow connectivity in the first place.


Will I Ever Get to Be Judy Jetson?

One of the things I love about CES is how each year the optimists want us to believe that because two pieces of technology can be made to work together, consumers should be excited about the mere possibilities, if not the execution.  Instead of driving a car, we’ll be driving mobile hotspots. We’ll control every home system from a portable device that lets you program your thermostat and digital video recorder from some cloud of information that follows us from home to the car to our offices and onto an airplane.  We will never have the excuse that technology won’t connect us to people wishing to reach us, except when we have no battery power or AC outlet.

Not to worry, though, technologists are aggressively trying to solve the power problem, too. Induction charging mats, solar chargers, and charging sticks are all over the show floor. Pretty soon, we’ll all be wearing a battery belt which charges each of our portable devices while they hang from our belt loops.  Unfortunately, the market for electronic wearables has not gained much traction yet with manufacturers and retailers beyond iPod messenger bags and workout gear.

Computers have run a lot of our car’s mechanical systems for a while now, and computer-assisted diagnostics have shown consumer benefits which has enabled manufacturers to consider exposing the “operating system” and selling apps, downloadable directly to your car. Streaming video, voice over IP and shopping has the potential to make the distraction of text messaging look trivial.

The Pew Research Center for People and the Press suggest that maybe the electronics industry has it right, and consumers are ready for these lifestyle changes. About two-thirds (65%) say the internet has been a change for the better, while just 16% say it has been a change for the worse; 11% say it hasn’t made much difference while 8% are unsure.


Favorite Tweet(s) of the Day

Halo Reach Previewed

@paidcontent @ CES: Steve Ballmer’s Keynote In Tweets


If It's January, It Must Be CES

I'm about to embark on my sixth CES adventure. I have attended the show as an online retailer, at Apple, and then as a product development executive at T-Mobile. The show, at this point in my career, is what Comdex was during my days at Visio, back when boxed software sold primariy from the shelf of CompUSA. The adult entertainment industry, often a leader in technology adoption, runs a parallel show during CES just like they used to do during Comdex. The excess of parties, swag and traffic during the week hasn't changed, although the hotel landscape along the strip certainly has.

In addition to the Adult Expo, Digital Hollywood also runs a conference concurrently with CES, which does a nice job of connecting the dots between the entertainment and consumer electronics industries.  And, for the last five shows, at least, both industries have evangelized the arrival of the connected home. From Web TV to Tivo, home electronics have yearned for several years to unite with your PC and connect to the Internet.  Television screens have been wall-sized for a couple of shows now, but each year there seem to be even more ingenious ways to enjoy multimedia through them, thanks to the tension between the entertainment and high tech industries.

Men love to trick out their cars, and CES has dedicated a section of the North Hall to all things automotive.  While mobile phones are converging with handheld GPS systems, and bypassing the after-market car installers, supersized stereo systems never fail to impress most male colleagues I have attended the show with in years past.

The show has been heavily rooted in Microsoft and its partners, with an ever increasing buzz for embedded Linux thanks to Android.  There were ultra mobile PCs, and then netbooks and now smartbooks and tablets.  Consumers apparently want something bigger than their mobile device to type and surf the web, but not as big as a laptop. The right combination of thin client apps, connectivity, touch keyboard, screen size, weight and battery life just could define a purpose-built user experience this year.

MacWorld, a trade show focused on Apple at which the company has launched many products, has historically butted up against CES, but that never stopped an amazing number of Apple partners from participating in CES, especially the iPhod accessory vendors, the ecosystem of cases, docks, chargers, and speakers manufacturers that secures consumers' commitment to their Apple purchase. With a rumored annoucnement by Apple later in January, and MacWorld 2010 pushed to February, the Google wave will really gain steam quickly in the new year, starting with their January 5th, pre-CES press conference. The November 2008 launch of the T-Mobile G1, and the release of the first version of Android to the developer community in late 2008, made the operating system the ingenue at CES 2009.

I'm excited to be covering the show this year for Technorati, and you will be able to read my posts by going to their home page each day during the show. Additional content will appear here as my devices and their portable chargers and powersticks allow. Please let me know if there are any products or technologies you'd like to hear about by adding comments to this post or messaging me @gearheadgal.

And, since Vegas is a town of gamblers, I do have one superstition I can share with you that I succumb to each year because the new year is all about optimism...each year I put $10 on the Seattle Mariners to win the World Series at the sports book of the hotel where I am staying. Go M's!

And a prosperous 2010 to you all.