Microsoft is giving up on the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The company will not longer sign as an exhibitor, starting next year. Frank Shaw, head of corporate communications at the Redmond company, revealed, “January will mark our final keynote presentation and booth at CES.”
The first keynote given by Bill Gates was back in 1994, his last 2008. Steve Ballmer replaced him for the past two years, but January 9, 2012 will be his last. They claim that their product milestones are out of sync with the January schedule of the CES.
Microsoft recognizes that it already utilizes many other avenues for addressing their customers. Local Microsoft retail stores, website, social media (i.e. Facebook and Twitter) and home-grown events are just some of them.
Microsoft’s decision comes across as a copycat move, though. The Redmond giant is often sneaking around in the shadowy footsteps of Apple. Apple ended its presence at CES in 2008, withdrawing its participation in both the keynote address and exhibition booth. Even the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the sponsor of the show, agrees that it is the right time to part ways, after 14 keynote deliveries.
Many will feel the vacuum in the Central Hall, where Microsoft has dominated with their presence for such a long time. The same message was given regarding Apple’s relationship to the shows when it chose to leave. The website, the minor role the shows play for the company, and the retail stores were all part of the reasoning behind Apple cutting ties. It is the same today with Microsoft. Perhaps Microsoft wants to be the next Apple.
Analysts view this as a sign of the decline of the importance of trade shows. Exhibitions like CES have always been ideal paths to reach small retailers. However, the biggest, baddest tech companies have no need to spend so much money at trade shows.
Some defend Microsoft, saying that their message is so sophisticated that diversions work against the delivery. But in the end, it is just a company with products and services. These are not even so complex as to require an isolation chamber to bombard the client with propaganda. Give us all a break! We are not talking rocket science here.
The Redmond company has made the same shift Apple did, to focusing its events on innovative products alone. The Windows Store is an example, where they met with the media and developers to provide greater details. They piggybacked that with an press release of Window’s 8 beta date in late-February.
CEA did not want to talk about the impact of Microsoft’s withdrawal on the show as a whole. They are in a bit of denial. They simply noted that there is a waiting list of other companies who desire to replace the giant.
It was at the CES that the Blue Screen of Death popped up unexpectedly in 2005, to Bill’s chagrin. The show has also been the site of significant product releases as well, though, such as in 2001, the Xbox.