By Google chairman Eric Schmidt’s reckoning, there are now four
technology companies that truly matter to people: Apple, Amazon,
Facebook and Google. None of them are at CES. Apple’s last
appearance was in 1992. Microsoft, which delivered the CES keynote
for years, announced — before last year’s keynote, even — that
it would not return in 2013. Its keynote spot is being taken over
by Qualcomm, which is mostly known for making chips for phones,
and its centerpiece booth now hosts Hisense, a state-owned Chinese
manufacturer you probably haven’t heard of. There probably isn’t a
more precise illustration of what’s happened to CES: The booth of
the world’s biggest software company is now occupied by a company
mostly noted for its production of cheap HDTVs that line the
shelves of Walmarts across the country.
In short, CES does seem to still tell the story of the year in consumer electronics: it’s just that it’s become a very boring story for all but the biggest companies, none of which bother to attend CES.