CES: The Running Of The Gadget Geeks!
I’ve lived in New York City on two different occasions. First, while attending New York University in the mid-1980s, and a second time, from 1999-2001, while working for IBM.
In neither instance did I ever visit the Statue of Liberty. I did take the Staten Island Ferry a couple of times, and we floated by Lady Liberty.
Does that count?
So it’s with some tremendous guilt that I admit I’ve also never attended the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the 2012 edition of which kicks off tomorrow.
It’s quite embarrassing as a self-admitted tech geek to make such an admission, but it’s the truth. I guess I’ve never had a really good business reason to attend, for one.
But I also get more than my fair share of time at trade shows and events, especially those for IBM, which anyone who’s a regular reader of this blog knows full well.
However, I also remember what it’s like to attend those big IT-related events in Las Vegas. For IBM’s Personal Systems magazine in 1994, I attended once, and only once, the massive COMDEX event.
IBM was prominently launching its new version of the OS/2 operating system that November 1994, “OS/2 Warp,” and I knew the moment I left McCarron Airport and saw the massive video screen featuring “OS/2 Warp” that I was in for a wild ride.
When I arrived at the Luxor hotel, where I was staying, and witnessed the room key cards and toilet banner wrap featuring “OS/2 Warp” — well, let’s just say that was as appropriate a way of prognosticating the fate of OS/2 as any I could think of, and it was only a short couple of years before CEO Lou Gerstner flushed the ill-fated operating system down its toilet of misery.
The feature piece I wrote about my experience at COMDEX was entitled “The Running of the Geeks.” And I can still remember the experience like it was yesterday.
Remembering this was during the days before ubiquitous cell phones and broadband Internet, this was still very much a face-to-face event. All the news was largely broken in company-initiated press conferences, and there was still plenty of buzz to be found on the massive show floor (think plural show floors, actually).
But what I also remember about COMDEX was how ridiculously crowded it was. For everything from making a pay phone call to grabbing a bite to eat for lunch to waiting for a cab, COMDEX was all about waiting in line. It was like trying to grab a loaf of bread in Moscow, pre-breakup of the USSR.
You had to wait in line for everything (including to take a bio break)! I joked at the time about how I was going to bring Roller Blades the next time I showed up for COMDEX, as that was the only sane way to get around.
Flash forward to 2012. I have friends who are attending the conference, poor suckers, and I feel for them. Because they, too, will be waiting — for everything. Because CES is pretty much on the same scale, only you also have the world’s most eager gadget hounds to fend off.
Here’s my CES strategy: Create a new dashboard on Netvibes using the keyword “CES,” then simply plan on following all the action remotely.
I can run downstairs from my home office and grab a cold beer if I need to (only after business hours, of course!). I can order a pizza and have it delivered straight to my man cave. Most importantly, I don’t have to worry about being stampeded as Intel rolls out its latest ultrabook line.
It’s perfectly fine by me if I never get to go to CES…
As for Lady Liberty, however, I still aspire to someday stand inside her crown.