The Consumer Electronics Show
is more than a convention. It's an opportunity for companies to
position themselves as leaders in their respective categories.
And with the world's media -- and more than 150,000 attendees --
watching, there's a lot at stake.
with the 2012 CES finally coming to an end last Friday -- after
four grueling days and endless exhibits and press conferences --
it's time to examine which companies emerged as the show's
winners and losers.
ultra-thin OLED TV.
The company snagged a 'Best of Show' award from CNET for its new
55-inch OLED TV, whose amazingly thin panel (less than 0.2
inches thick) and sparkling picture wowed the attendees. But
that was only half the story. LG also exhibited an impressive
84-inch 4K HDTV which purported to offer a resolution four times
better than current sets. While it was difficult to truly
measure that claim, the two TVs kept a steady stream of people
filing through the company's exhibit area -- and kept the media
busy filing stories about the company's eye-popping innovations.
Overall, it was a great CES for LG.
Sony, which has lost market share over the last few years to
lesser-knowns such as Vizio, tried hard to win back its
reputation as a TV leader by exhibiting everything from a new
55-Inch Crystal LED HDTV to a 4K Home Theater to glasses-free 3D
TVs. However, Sony had to admit that the Crystal LED was just a
prototype (LG's OLED is expected at retail in the second half of
the year.) and the 4K Home Theater presentation, while
impressive, left few attendees gushing, which wasn't Sony hope,
to be sure.
But the one thing that made Sony a clear loser was the TV that
wasn't there -- an OLED set. Sony was the first in the U.S. to
sell an OLED set, launching an 11-inch model a few years ago.
But Sony apparently could not manufacture a larger-screen
version of the new picture technology and had to abandon the
business entirely. LG, however, stepped in with its 55-inch OLED
(as did Samsung, which also exhibited a 55-Inch OLED), making
Sony look, well, like a product innovating loser.
The company wasn't even at the show -- not officially, anyway
(reports circulated of Apple exec sightings). But Apple's
presence was everywhere. The company's reported plan to
introduce an Apple TV in 2012 or 2013 was the talk of the show.
And the set's likely features, such as voice and motion control,
have already become the standard for advanced TVs. Several
manufacturers introduced sets that could be controlled by using
voice commands. Would they have done so if it were not for
Toshiba Toshiba scored points by
introducing a 4K HDTV which displayed an impressive picture,
particularly when seen alongside a 1080p set which Toshiba
helpfully (and smartly) positioned next to it. But the company
made a lot of noise prior to the show for its new glasses-free
3D HDTV -- and it was met with mixed reviews from attendees and
the media. I thought the 3D
effects seemed a bit muted compared to a 3D presentation seen
with glasses. And the picture often seemed a bit blurry.
If Toshiba thought it would revitalize interest in 3D with the
glasses-free presentation, it didn't work.
Samsung While LG displayed its 55-inch
OLED TV in the middle of its exhibit area, Samsung mysteriously tucked its 55-inch
OLED edition behind a curtain with a line of people waiting to
go in. The decision likely kept some people from taking a good
look and possibly kept buzz down as well. It wasn't too
surprising that LG's OLED became the hit of the show while
Samsung's OLED became an afterthought. PR people, you messed up.
Update: I may have messed up. Samsung
tells me that there were some OLED TVs in clear view at the
front of the booth. One day one, I must confess that I didn't
see them, but I will definitely take Samsung's word for this.
The company said the OLED exhibit that was 'curtained off' was
done so to ensure that a two program viewing demonstration could
be done with maximum effect.
The company scored big buzz points by showcasing the real TV of
the future -- an 8K HDTV that offers a resolution 16 times
better than current sets. While it may be years before the 8K
hits retail, Sharp gave people a taste of what's to come.
Winner: Dish (Formerly Dish Network) With noted ham Joe Clayton now as
CEO, the satcaster entertained the press by bringing a baby
kangaroo to its press conference announcing a new 'Hopper' HD
DVR that can record six shows at the same time. (Of course, four
of the shows have to be network shows in primetime, but Dish can
still say it records six simultaneously.) The press conference
was a hoot with Clayton cuddling the baby roo to open the event.
While rival DIRECTV all-but ignored CES (it did issue a press
release announcing a minor partnership with Samsung.), Dish
captured the show's attention by combining product innovation
with show business flair.
Not only did Dish CEO Clayton say that Blockbuster's streaming
service was not ready to challenge Netflix nationally (minus the
Dish subscription requirement), he told Reuters that all
"unprofitable" Blockbuster stores would soon close. (Dish
purchased Blockbuster in a bankruptcy auction last year.) It was
not a good show for Blockbuster.
Microsoft was not only a loser for announcing that this would be
its last CES ever, the company got the 'sore loser' tag as well
for not making any news at the show. Company CEO Steve Ballmer
gave a keynote address to kick off the show on Monday night, but
it only served to prove that even Justin Timberlake can be
boring when cast in the wrong role. (Timberlake shared the stage
with Ballmer for part of the presentation at Microsoft's
You would think that Microsoft would go out with a bang, but the
company's keynote barely made a whimper. And to make matters
worse, Reuters reported during the show that Microsoft has had
to put its Net TV cable-like subscription service on hold
because it's having trouble persuading programmers to license
Winner: The Consumer Electronics Association
Prior to the show, several media outlets published articles
saying that CES was no longer relevant and that an analysis of
past shows proved that top CES products often failed in the
marketplace. The latter charge may have some truth, but despite
the gloomy talk, the CES broke an all-time record this year with
153,000 attendees. Kudos to the Consumer Electronics Association
for keeping its eye on the ball.
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